Survey: Egypt Wants Only Advisory Roles for Religious Leaders

As Egypt attempts to lay the foundations for its new long-term government, a recent poll suggests that most Egyptians only want an advisory role for religious leaders.

A Gallup survey released earlier this week indicated that Egyptians, although on the whole were positive about their futures, and their country’s economic prospects, they were cautious about religious leaders taking any mainstream roles within the new government setup.

It was found that 92% of Egyptians thought it vital to include freedom of speech in drafting a new constitution for the country. In addition, 67% said they would also draft a provision for freedom of religion.

The survey revealed that 55% would include freedom of assembly in a new constitution, with 92% saying they had confidence in their religious institutions.

An overwhelming 96% said religion was important in Egypt. However, 69% favored only an advisory role for religious leaders, and only 14% wanted religious leaders to be granted full authority. A further 9% wanted religious leaders to have no role whatsoever in the new government.

The survey, based on a nationally representative, face-to-face survey of approximately 1,000 Egyptians aged 15 or older, also revealed that many Egyptians hold a general mistrust of the United States.

It was found that 68% of those polled believed the U.S. would attempt to impose influence over Egypt’s future. However, it was also found that 88% of Egyptians face a U.S.-style model for their country, and 75% opposed the U.S. giving financial aid to political groups in the country.

Not surprisingly more than 60% indicated that they would think more positively of the U.S. if it applied more pressure on Israel to halt settlement expansion, and withdrew troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.

According to Gallup, the results showed, “Egyptian leaders must deliver on their people's expectations for free and honest elections, building on the success of the constitutional referendum.”

“Civil society activists and policymakers alike would do well to approach security and community cohesion as a local issue requiring reform of local institutions,” the survey stated.

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