The 2016 Arab Opinion Index is the fifth in a series of yearly public opinion surveys across the Arab world. The first survey was conducted in 2011, with following surveys in 2012/2013 and 2014. The 2016 Arab Opinion Index is based on face-to-face interviews conducted with 18,310 individual respondents in 12 separate Arab countries: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt, Sudan, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Mauritania.
Sampling followed a randomized, stratified, multi-stage, self-weighted clustered approach, giving an overall margin of error between +/- 2 % and 3% for the individual country samples. The overall samples guarantee probability-proportional-to-size (PPS), ensuring fairness in the representation of various population segments. With an aggregate sample size of 18,310 respondents (50% of whom were men and 50% women). The Arab Opinion Index remains the largest public opinion survey covering the Middle East and North Africa. The fieldwork was carried out by an overall team of 840 individuals (half of whom were women), who conducted 45,000 hours of face-to-face interviews, covering a total of 760,000 kilometers across the population clusters sampled.
Results from the 2016 survey show an overwhelming majority (89%) of Arabs in opposition to the group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant; only 2% of respondents expressed having “Very positive” views of ISIL while another 3% expressed views which were “Positive to some extent”.
Attitudes towards ISIL are not correlated with religiosity: positive and negative views are found equally frequently between those respondents who identify themselves as “Very religious”, “Religious” and “Not religious”. Equally, positive attitudes towards ISIL are not correlated with attitudes towards the role of religion in the public sphere or with beliefs on the use of religion to regulate the economy. The lack of such correlations illustrates the idea that attitudes towards ISIL are defined by political considerations and not by religious beliefs. This is further corroborated by the fact that when asked to explain ISIL’s popularity among its support base, only around 20% of respondents attribute this popularity to religious factors.
Other highlights include:
• 77% of the Arab public agrees that a multi-party democracy was a good form of government for their home countries. In contrast, majorities varying in size from 61% to 75% expressed their opposition to a set of other forms of government, including one restricted to Islamic Sharia, free of elections and of political parties; an electoral system where competition was restricted to Islamists; or an electoral system where competition was restricted to secular parties.
• 89% of Arabs have negative views of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
• The vast majority of Arabs have negative views of Israel and its treatment of the Palestinians.
• A growing proportion of Arabs has gone online over the past five years: 61% of respondents to the 2016 survey are regular internet users.
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