Friday, March 24, 2006

If You Desire Political Rights And Civil Liberties, Is Islam Undesirable?

Freedom House's "2006 Freedom In The World Rankings" gives every country in the world a ranking from 1 to 7 (7 being the worst) in civil liberties and another 1-7 ranking in political rights.

I wanted to see if I could find a relationship between the kind of Freedom House rankings a country earns and the percentage of Muslims in that country. So I gathered percentages, correlated, and here are my results:

In the 2006 report, countries that are 51%-70% Muslim earn an average Freedom House ranking of 9.1 (adding the civil liberties ranking to the political rights ranking).

Countries that are 71%-90% Muslim earn an average ranking of 9.6.

Countries that are 91%-100% Muslim earn an average ranking of 10.4.

To put this in perspective, remember that the best possible ranking a country can receive is 2, in other words 1 for civil liberties and 1 for political rights. Canada, Costa Rica, Taiwan, Germany and the U.S. are examples of countries that earned a ‘2’ ranking. Now if you consider the above-shown rankings for Muslim countries, you see that on average, the higher the percentage of Muslims in a country (though I only calculated for countries with Muslim percentages 51% and over) the worse the civil liberties and political rights rankings earned by that country.

This result, if correct, is not terribly surprising, since Freedom House statistics reveal the more general fact that the group of Muslim-majority countries, although they have made progress toward rights and liberties over the last ten years, nevertheless lag well behind every other major region in the world. Thus it would seem the really significant threshold percentages are not those I examined above. The bigger marker is the transition from minority to majority status, from less than 50% Muslim to more than 50% Muslim. Of course this is only a generalization and it is well to remember an exceptional place like Mali. Mali is 90% Muslim and earned a combined civil liberties and political rights score of 4, which, though not a 2, is still good enough to put it in Freedom House’s “free country” category.

According to Freedom House

Western Europe:
24 free countries, 1 partly free country

24 free countries, 9 partly free, 2 not free

Asia Pacific:
16 free, 12 partly free, 11 not free

11 free, 23 partly free, 14 not free

Muslim-majority countries:
3 free, 20 partly free, 23 not free

Muslim-majority countries a decade ago
1 free, 13 partly free, 32 not free

The “2006” Freedom House report shows ratings for the period from Dec.1, 2004 to Nov 30, 2005. During that time, Mali, Senegal, and Indonesia were the only Muslim-majority countries to earn a “free” rating, though none of them received the best possible “free” rating of ‘2’. But what is it they have that tyrannies like Syria, Libya and Saudi Arabia so egregiously lack? And can it be exported?

And why is there such a huge liberty lag in Muslim countries considered as a group?

The world is only now waking to the likelihood that the Muslim liberty-lag is to some significant degree a result of the totalitarian character of central aspects of the Quran and Hadith.

No comments: