Report: Young Qataris favor equal rights for non-Muslim residents

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Non-Muslims should be afforded the same rights as Muslims when living in a Muslim country, the majority (89 percent) of recently polled Qatari youth have said.

They were the most likely in 10 Arab countries to believe this to be true.

That’s according to the second annual Muslim Millennial Attitudes on Religion and Religious Leadership report.

Al Tabah Foundation

Survey results

The findings concern the report’s authors, who said there is a “dire lack of understanding among young Arabs” about how citizenship and rights work under Islam.

“The view that citizenship is subject to a hierarchy of prominence determined primarily by one’s faith is precisely the frame that extremist groups want normalized,” the report said.

The survey was conducted by the Abu Dhabi-based Tabah Foundation along with Zogby Research, which released the results this week.

The report gauges religious sentiment among youth in Qatar, Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Oman, Sudan, Tunisia and Yemen.

To arrive at their conclusions, the authors interviewed more than 7,000 young Arabs in these countries earlier this year.

Identity questions

One reason Qataris might believe in equal treatment is because they were among the most likely to say they have friends or acquaintances who are not Muslim (84 percent).

In Lebanon, 95 percent of young Arabs answered affirmatively to that question.

Embrace Doha

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But elsewhere, most people in Sudan, Mauritania, Yemen and Tunisia, among others, said they do not have non-Muslim associates.

When it came to their identity, most Qatari youth (59 percent) surveyed listed their country as the first thing that defined them.

Far fewer cited being Arab (18 percent) or Muslim (19 percent) first, and only 4 percent listed their family or tribe first.

Omar Chatriwala / Doha News

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However, nine out of 10 Qataris polled said it is still important for people they meet to know they are Muslim.

And 71 percent said religion has an important role to play in their country’s future.

Banning content

Perhaps due to their strong religious convictions, the majority of youth in all countries surveyed said they believe cultural content that breaches society’s morals and ethics should be banned.

In Qatar, 67 percent supported that notion, while 33 percent agreed with the idea that if they don’t like it, they don’t have to watch it.

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Interestingly, Qatar was on the less conservative side when it came to censorship, compared to other countries surveyed (except for Lebanon).

The findings could indicate dropping support for banning content.

Just three years ago, for example, a media study found that 80 percent of Qatar residents approved the deletion of offensive scenes in movies.

“This support for censorship and government monitoring of entertainment content is observed across all facets of the population, except, perhaps, among Western expatriates in Qatar,” Northwestern University in Qatar said at the time.

Islamic reforms needed

When it comes to Islam, many Qataris (25 percent) said they found Friday sermons to be “bland and boring.” And only a third said they were inspirational.

The numbers may explain why Qataris overwhelmingly (70 percent) supported the idea of reforming religious discourse to make it more relevant to their lives.

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Local youth also believe more can be done for women in society.

Some 79 percent of Qataris said their society respects and empowers women – the most out of every country except Yemen.

But Qataris were also the most likely to support the idea that female religious scholars should be able to preach more widely in society.

Finally, a majority of youth polled in all countries said groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda “are misguided and tarnish the image of Islam.”

Thoughts?

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