That rather than a “clash of civilisations” is what most Australians believe we are witnessing at the moment, according to a BBC-Sydney Morning Herald survey, details of which were published today.
IT IS bad news for radio shock jocks and clash of civilisation theorists. A poll of 28,000 people in 27 countries has found most believe political and economic interests – not religious and cultural diversity – are the underlying cause of violent conflict in the world today.
In the joint BBC World Service- Sydney Morning Herald poll, 52 per cent said conflicting interests were the primary reason for tensions between Islam and the West, compared with 29 per cent who thought religion and culture were to blame.
A global majority, according to the poll, rejects the idea, popularised by the American academic Samuel P. Huntington, of an inevitable clash of civilisations based on religion and culture.
A poll-topping 68 per cent of Australians blamed “intolerant minorities on both sides” of the Islam/West divide for stirring up tensions. Only one in 10 Australians surveyed blamed intolerant Muslims exclusively.
“Two out of three people in Australia understand that there are those on all sides of this question who just love to stir,” said Paul Korbel, of Market Focus International, the pollster that conducted the survey here.
Of all people surveyed, twice as many (56 per cent) believe “common ground can be found” as those who see violent conflict between Islam and the West as inevitable (28 per cent).
The worried minority are still a worry though.
“If a quarter of the Australian population believes violent conflict is inevitable, and over a third think religious and cultural difference is the reason, then that’s cause for concern,” Mr Korbel said. “Perhaps education programs aimed at the intolerant minority should be boosted.”
But it is worse elsewhere. In Indonesia, most (51 per cent) see violent conflict between Islam and the West as inevitable. People in Egypt (43 per cent) and Germany (39 per cent) agreed.
Bridge builders still have plenty of work to do. In the case of Indonesia, see The Wahid Institute for one example of bridge building.
I loved the photo accompanying the article today. It was taken on Harmony Day last year. I call that positive appropriation…