A poll (March 24 – April 7, 2011) taken by the US-based Pew Research Centre among 1000 Egyptians – 62% of the participants responded they want to establish an Islamic state with real democratic values.

The poll results are published in Egyptian daily Al-Ahram in its May 5-11, 2011 edition.

The poll concludes that Egyptians are largely divided over the issue of religion. Whereas about 62 per cent think laws should strictly follow the teachings of the Quran, only 31 per cent of Egyptian Muslims say they sympathise with Islamic fundamentalists. Nearly the same number, 30 per cent, say they sympathise with those who disagree with fundamentalists, and 26 per cent have mixed views on this question. A majority of 81 per cent generally think religious leaders are having a positive influence on the country.

Meanwhile, the public is “clearly open to religious-based political parties being part of a future government” and most people have a favourable opinion of the Muslim Brotherhood, “which has been a major presence in Egyptian society for decades, although it was officially banned from politics throughout the Mubarak era,” noted the survey. That said, only 17 per cent of respondents say they want the group to be part of the future government.

Analysts note that the poll has perhaps underestimated the popularity of the Muslim Brotherhood among Egyptians. Poll results showed the group had relatively equal ratings as those of other political groups, including the relatively secular 6 April Movement and political leaders Amr Moussa, Ayman Nour and Mohamed El-Baradei. Whereas three in four of the surveyed group have favourable views of the Brotherhood, and 37 per cent have a very favourable view, the poll found that seven in 10 Egyptians express a positive opinion of the April 6 Movement, a protest organisation formed just three years ago.

An overwhelming majority – 77 per cent of Egyptians are happy that former president Hosni Mubarak is gone. “This is not to say that many do not remain cautious about the prospects for political change: just 41 per cent say that a free and fair choice in the next election is very likely, while as many (43 per cent) think it is only somewhat likely, and 16 per cent say it is unlikely,” according to Pew.

Democracy has become a major priority for 71 per cent of Egyptians, compared to 60 per cent last year. Most people desire free and fair multi-party elections, and 54 per cent of the surveyed sample favoured democracy over political stability. But most Egyptians (82 per cent) also aspire for improved economic conditions, a fair judiciary (79 per cent) and maintaining law and order (63 per cent). “When a good democracy is tested against a strong economy, it is a 47 per cent to 49 per cent draw, respectively,” said the survey.

Regarding economic conditions, the survey finds Egyptians somewhat more positive than they were a year ago. About one third (34 per cent) now rate the economy as good, compared with 20 per cent in 2010; still, most (64 per cent) say economic conditions are bad. But fully 56 per cent think the economy will improve over the next year. Just 25 per cent were optimistic in 2010.

Poll: 62% Egyptian favor Islamic democracy | Rehmat calling