Futuribles Journal n° 425

Institutions - Société, modes de vie

Arab Public Opinion: Between Attachment to Islam and Commitment to Democracy


International surveys of personal values have existed for almost 40 years (since 1981) in most European countries (the European Values Study or EVS) and in many countries of the world (the World Values Survey), enabling us to observe the evolution of the values of the citizenry in many areas (religion, family, politics, trust, tolerance etc.). Only in much more recent times (for some 10 years or so) have studies of this type been carried out in the Arab countries, but they are worthy of particular attention in the post-2001 context (after the attacks claimed by Islamist terrorism) and post-2011 (after the “Arab springs”). Having regularly reported the results of European and Western values studies, it was only natural for Futuribles to do the same with surveys relating to public opinion in countries in the Arab world.

Hence Pierre Bréchon, who coordinates the French strand of the EVS, has examined these surveys, the Arab Barometer in particular, whose most recent findings in a dozen Arab countries he analyses here. These confirm the attachment of Arab peoples to very traditional values in religious (Islam) and family matters, but attest also to advances with regard to democratic values. With this article, Pierre Bréchon shows, with supporting statistical evidence, the main values to which the peoples of these countries subscribe. Most importantly, he shows the considerable disparities that exist between one country and another and the impact certain events (such as the Arab springs) have had on the evolution of opinion.