New Survey of Muslim Youth (Age 15 to 25) in Malaysia and Indonesia

This report (Values, Dreams, Ideals: Muslim Youth in Southeast Asia, with a pointer to the questionnaire and the raw data) struck me as interesting, because Malaysia and Indonesia are often mentioned as places in which a more moderate form of Islam is generally practiced, and because Indonesia has the largest Muslim population of any country in the world. The results are pretty complicated, so let me just give a couple of reported results, based on the questionnaire and raw data document (many of these items don’t seem to be mentioned in the report, though perhaps I missed them):

  1. The statement “Terrorism gives Islam a bad image” was endorsed by 55.3% to 27.2% among Indonesian youths and “Terrorism gives Islam a bad name” was endorsed by 59.3% to 39.8% among Malaysian youths.
  2. The statement “Suicide bombers are needed to defend Islam” was rejected by 77.5% to 15.5% among Indonesian youths and 55.8% to 43.3% among Malaysian youths.
  3. The question “Do you think the Quran should replace the 1945
    constitution?,” was answered “no” by 75.3% to 20.4% of Indonesian youths, but “In your view, should the Quran replace the constitution of your country?,” was answered “yes” by 71.6% to 25.2% among Malaysian youths.
  4. The statement “It’s OK to be gay or lesbian” was rejected by 98.8% to 0.6% among Indonesian youths (though note that the question did not ask about whether such behavior should be outlawed), and 99.4% to 0.5% among Malaysian youths.
  5. The statement “The cartoonist who drew the image of the Prophet Muhammad had freedom of expression” was rejected by 70.5% to 19.7% among Indonesian youths and “The cartoonist who made the Mohamed-Cartoons had freedom of expression” was rejected by 82.8% to 15.5% among Malaysian youths.
  6. The statement “Osama bin Laden is an Islamic liberation fighter” was endorsed by 51.1% to 28.1% among Indonesian youths and “Osama bin Laden is a freedom fighter” was endorsed by 62.4% to 33.3% among Malaysian youths. This makes me wonder whether the endorsement of “terrorism gives Islam a bad image” tends to include the view that Bin-Laden-style terrorism gives Islam a bad image, or tends to exclude it because so many view Osama bin Laden as a “freedom fighter” and thus presumably not a “terroris[t].”
  7. The statement “I like the US more since Barack Obama became president” is endorsed by 50.2% to 40.5% among Indonesian youths, but rejected by 60.8% to 35.8% among Malaysian youths.

There’s a lot more there in the questionnaire and raw data file; check it out yourself, and please let me know if I erred in any of my summaries above. Many thanks to Prof. Howard Friedman (Religion Clause) for the pointer.

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