Demonstrators wave Iran's flag .
(photo credit: REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi)
WASHINGTON - As Iran heads into presidential elections this
week, Iranians have mixed views on political roles for religious figures but a
large majority backs sharia law, according to a poll published on
As part of the Pew Research Center poll that shows
contradictions between republicanism and theocratic rule in Iran, 40 percent of
Iranians said religious figures should play a large role in
Twenty-six percent said religious figures should have some
influence in political matters. Thirty percent said they should have not too
much or no influence.
Iranians vote on Friday among six candidates for a
successor to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Within Iran's mix of clerical rulers
and elected officials, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has the final say
on such big issues as Tehran's nuclear program.
The Pew poll showed that
83 percent of Iranians say they favor the use of sharia, the Islamic legal and
Only 37 percent of Iranian Muslims think their country's
current laws follow sharia very closely. Forty-five percent say existing laws
adhere to Islamic law somewhat closely.
The poll was based on
face-to-face interviews in Iran with 1,522 Iranians ages 18 and older conducted
between Feb. 24 and May 3. The margin of error is 3.2 percentage
A separate poll by Pew's Global Attitudes Project shows that a
median of 59 percent of people surveyed in 39 countries have an unfavorable
opinion of Iran. Twenty percent have a favorable opinion.
percent of those surveyed said Tehran does not respect the personal freedoms of
its people, Pew said. Eleven percent said it does.
The survey was
conducted from March 2 to May 1 among 37,653 respondents. The margin of error
among the 39 countries ranged from 3.1 to 7.7 percentage points.