World News

Arabs tend to lose faith in religious parties and leaders

The effect was particularly marked in "Arab Spring" countries - three of the four biggest rises in non believers took place in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia. Religious zeal is also falling in the region, particularly among the young. Since 2013, the number of people across the region identifying as “not religious” has risen from 8% to 13% among those under 30.



“No to religion or sect,” cry the protesters in Iraq. “No to Islam, no to Christianity, revolt for the nation,” echo those in Lebanon.

Across the region the share of people expressing much trust in political parties, most of which have a religious tint, has fallen by well over a third since 2011, to 15%. (The share of Iraqis who say they do not trust parties at all rose from 51% to 78%.)

The decline in trust for Islamist parties is similarly dramatic, falling from 35% in 2013, when the question was first widely asked, to 20% in 2018.

Across the Arab world many people are turning against religious political parties and the clerics who helped bring them to power. Some appear to be giving up on Islam, too.

A large number of Arabs have abandoned religious belief in the past six years, according to a poll demonstrating that the political turmoil and war have had clear social effects. The loss of faith, albeit from a high level before, was particularly marked in the young.

These trends are reflected in new data from Arab Barometer, a pollster that surveys Arab countries.

Researchers asked the residents of ten countries and the Palestinian territories whether they identified as “non-religious”. The number who agreed rose from 8 per cent in 2012-13 to 13 per cent, and 18 per cent among those under  30. There was also a loss of trust in religious leaders and political parties.

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