Poll: 61% of Egyptians want to cancel Israel treaty

Pew survey finds army, Islamists remain popular, but Amr Moussa leading presidential race.

May 13, 2012 02:54
2 minute read.
Protest after Friday prayers in Cairo

Angry Egytian protesters 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Six in ten Egyptians want to cancel the peace treaty with Israel, a new poll has found, up from just over half of respondents since last year’s survey.

The poll, released last week by the Washington-based Pew Research Center, showed 61 percent of Egyptians want to cancel the 1979 agreement, while a third want to keep the treaty and the rest are undecided.

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The survey found opposition to the agreement had grown significantly over the last year among people under 30 (up 14 percentage points to 64%) and the college-educated (up 18 points to 58%).

The poll was based on 1,000 face-to-face interviews conducted in Arabic between March 19 and April 10, and has a margin of error of 4%.

Pollsters found little change in Egyptians’ overwhelmingly negative views of their country’s decades-long ally, the United States: 79% had unfavorable opinions of America – the same figure as last year – and only 19% were favorable.

Six in ten Egyptians said US military and economic aid had a negative effect on their country, even while just a quarter describe the national economy as “good.”

The US gave Cairo $1.7 billion in economic and military aid in 2010 – its fifth-highest foreign outlay after Afghanistan, Pakistan, Israel and Iraq.

US President Barack Obama is similarly unpopular. Nearly seven in ten respondents lacked confidence in Obama’s foreign policy, compared to just 29% expressing confidence. In 2009, ahead of Obama’s landmark Cairo address to the Muslim world, 42% of Egyptians said they had confidence in him.

Egyptians overwhelmingly viewed Islam as a positive influence on society, though the percentage viewing it as negative had exploded to 25% from a minuscule 2% last year. Still, six in ten said Egypt’s laws should strictly adhere to the Koran, and another third said laws should conform to Islamic principles but not necessarily follow the Koran to the letter.

Only 6% said the Koran need not be consulted in drafting laws.

Seventy percent of those polled expressed positive views of the Muslim Brotherhood, down from 75% last year, and more than eight in ten said religious leaders had a positive effect on society. Opinions on the hard-line Islamist Salafi Nour party were evenly split, with 44% for and against.

Egyptians “want Islam to play a major role in society, and most believe the Koran should shape the country’s laws, although a growing minority expresses reservations about the increasing influence of Islam in politics,” the pollsters wrote.

Still, the most popular candidate for president is not an Islamist but Amr Moussa, a nationalist former foreign minister under the deposed regime of president Hosni Mubarak. Moussa enjoys 81% favorability among Egyptians, followed by SCAF leader Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi at 63%.

Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh, an independent Islamist who is Moussa’s main rival for president, polled at 58% favorability.

Asked about the structure of Egypt’s new government, two-thirds of respondents said democracy is preferable to any other form of rule, but when asked about specific features common to liberal democracies, numbers were lower.

Four out of ten respondents said equal rights for women and religious minorities are important, 35% said the same about uncensored Internet access and just a quarter about civilian oversight of the military.

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