First of all, let me say that the results of this poll seem quite disconnected from reality.

As written in the LA Times:

According to the survey, majorities in Pakistan, Egypt, Jordan and Nigeria would favor changing current laws to allow stoning as a punishment for adultery, hand amputation for theft and death for those who convert from Islam to another religion. About 85% of Pakistani Muslims said they would support a law segregating men and women in the workplace.

The poll also suggests that many Muslims think Islam should play a larger role in politics, but yet groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah do not have widespread support.

I find the numbers and ‘results’ of this poll disturbing, not because of what the poll alleges to be true, but because of the extremely small sample of people interviewed. Only 8,000 people in 7 countries with “large Muslim populations” were interviewed (face to face), and Pakistan alone has over 180 million people.

Unlike the US, where pretty much every family has a land line phone and representative samples can be taken at random by calling people’s home numbers, no such equalizer exists in the countries where this survey was taken.

Say they interviewed 2,000 people (out of 180 million) in Pakistan – where did they find those people? How is it possible to ensure a representative sample without knowing each participants’ background information such as education, languages spoken, caste, age, occupation and religious sect?

Having lived in Pakistan for over three years, I’ve met people from almost every social background, and not one person I’ve met supports stoning, hand amputation or death for apostasy. I’ve probably met and talked about politics (in English, Urdu or via translation) with more Pakistanis than were interviewed for this survey, and my unscientific analysis is that 0% of those people would support such an interpretation of Islamic law.

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