Max Fisher created the above chart using data from a new Pew report (pdf):
According to Pew’s data, 78 percent of Afghan Muslims say they support laws condemning to death anyone who gives up Islam. In both Egypt and Pakistan, 64 percent report holding this view. This is also the majority view among Muslims in Malaysia, Jordan and the Palestinian territories.
It’s important to note, though, that this view is not widely held in all Muslim countries or even among Muslims in these regions. In Bangladesh, another majority Muslim South Asian state that has a shared heritage with Pakistan, it is about half as prevalent, with 36 percent saying they support it. Fewer than one in six Tunisian Muslims hold the view, as do fewer than one in seven Muslims in Lebanon, which has a strong Christian minority.
The view is especially rare among Central Asian and European Muslims. Only 6 percent of Russian Muslims agree that converts from Islam should face death, as do 1 percent of Albanian Muslims and, at the bottom of the chart, 0.5 percent of Kazakhs.
But look at Egypt, Pakistan, Jordan and Palestinians. How is it possible to have any sort of liberal democracy when religious conscience is worthy of the death penalty, for a hefty majority of citizens in those countries? More to the point: if you could pick a single country on earth least likely to become anything like a Western democracy, it would be Afghanistan. And yet US soldiers are still there trying to bring it about.
My guess is that this is hubris that future generations will look back on with amazement. We tried to do what? I’m just relieved George W. Bush’s errors will now be restricted to various canvases and easels.