Poll Surveys Egyptian Attitudes Since Uprising

Host Michele Norris speaks with Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center, about the latest Pew polling in Egypt, which surveys attitudes and expectations there in the wake of the popular uprising.

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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

From Syria now to Egypt, where tensions are running high as the country looks toward elections later this year. A new poll from the Pew Research Center surveys attitudes and expectations in Egypt in the wake of the popular uprising there.

And Pew president Andy Kohut joins us to tell us more. Welcome back to the program, Andy.

Mr. ANDY KOHUT (President, Pew Research Center): Happy to be with you.

NORRIS: Always good to talk to you.

Now, the uprising was largely fueled by young people in Egypt. But you've heard from Egyptians of all ages and all walks of life. And even though the outlines of the government and the economy are still very shaky right now, what's their general outlook on the country's future?

Mr. KOHUT: Well, everyone is embracing what has happened. The percentage of people saying that things are going well in the country jumped from 27 percent last year to 65 percent this year. And people are optimistic. But...

NORRIS: I was waiting. It sounded like there is a but there.

Mr. KOHUT: There is a but. And the but is that there's all kinds of conflicting factions that people are embracing. And also, people are not quite so certain about those free elections. Just 41 percent say it's very likely that the next elections will be honest and open. And almost as many, 43 percent, say it's only somewhat likely. So there is a bit of reserve.

We get people giving a higher rating to law and order, 63 percent, very important, than to honest elections, 55 percent.

NORRIS: Andy, the United States has long showered Egypt with millions of dollars in foreign aid. But polls have consistently shown that Egyptians have a rather low opinion of the United States, despite that high level of aid. And your survey seems to show that has not changed.

Mr. KOHUT: The United States did not gain much from what happened politically in Egypt. The favorable rating for the U.S. is 20 percent, that's very low in global terms. It was 17 percent last year.

When we asked what effect did the U.S. have on the political changes, 39 percent say negative and only 22 percent say positive.

NORRIS: What role does Israel play in Egyptian attitudes toward the U.S. and view of foreign policy in general?

Mr. KOHUT: Well, I think like most Arab publics, Egyptians think we are unfair in how we deal with Israel relative to the Palestinians, and we're much disapproved of. A solid majority of Egyptians, 54 percent to 32 percent, would like to see the longstanding treaty between Israel and Egypt annulled.

NORRIS: What about leadership? What is the general view of the military and other important institutions?

Mr. KOHUT: I was surprised by how positive the ratings of the military are. We have something like 88 percent saying that the military is having a good effect on the way things are going. In fact, 53 percent say the military is having a very good effect. Go back to the police, which was the enemy of the people in this uprising, only 19 percent say they're having a very good effect.

NORRIS: What about the Muslim Brotherhood?

Mr. KOHUT: The Muslim Brotherhood is embraced by a very large percentage of the Egyptian public. Thirty-seven percent say they have a very favorable view of them. Thirty-eight percent have somewhat favorable view of them.

And we found 50 percent of the people questioned saying that it's very important to them that religious parties be allowed to be part of the next government. And we found more than 62 percent saying that they would like to see Egyptian laws strictly follow the Quran. And we found as many 30 percent identify or support Muslim fundamentalists.

Now, when we ask about who would you support, only a relatively small percentage of people say they support the Muslim Brotherhood. But only a relatively small percentage of people support any of the parties that we tested.

NORRIS: That's Pew President Andy Kohut. Andy, it's always good to talk in the studio with you. Thanks so much for coming in.

Mr. KOHUT: You're quite welcome.

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