As Iranians prepare to elect a new president on June 14, the Pew Research Center has released two new survey reports on Iran – one detailing Iranians’ views of religion and politics and another on how other populations around the globe view the country.
Iranians’ Views Mixed on Political Role for Religious Figures
Just 40% of Iranians think religious figures should play a large role in politics, according to a new survey report by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life. The report shows an additional 26% of Iranians say religious figures should have some influence in political matters, while three-in-ten believe they should have little or no influence.
The survey – conducted between Feb. 24 and May 3, 2012 – also found that an overwhelming majority of Iranians (83%) say they favor the use of sharia, or Islamic law. Yet only 37% of Iranian Muslims think their country’s current laws follow sharia very closely. Most say existing laws adhere to Islamic law somewhat closely (45%), not too closely (10%) or not at all closely (3%).
The analysis is based on a nationally representative Pew Research survey of Iranians. Face-to-face interviews with 1,522 adults, ages 18 and older, also show that most Iranians do not consider religious extremism to be a major problem in their country. Similarly, only minorities say there are widespread tensions or conflicts between Muslims who are more devout and those who are less devout, different religious groups, and Sunni and Shia Muslims in their country.
Global Views of Iran Overwhelmingly Negative
A separate survey conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project shows that majorities in most of 39 countries surveyed have an unfavorable opinion of Iran, and most say Tehran does not respect the personal freedoms of its people. Meanwhile, any nuclear ambitions harbored by the Iranian government continue to draw strong opposition from Western countries, as well as neighboring states.
Unfavorable views of Iran are especially widespread in Israel and much of Western Europe, where at least eight-in-ten in most countries surveyed have a negative opinion of Iran. In the U.S., roughly seven-in-ten express an unfavorable view. Majorities in many other nations, including predominantly Muslim countries, also see Iran in a negative light. Only in Pakistan (69%) and Indonesia (55%) do majorities express a favorable opinion of Iran.
The survey was conducted from March 2 to May 1, 2013, among 37,653 respondents in 39 countries.
The Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life conducts surveys, demographic analyses and other social science research on important aspects of religion and public life in the U.S. and around the world. As part of the Washington-based Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan, non-advocacy organization, the Pew Forum does not take positions on policy debates or any of the issues it covers.