Interfaith tolerance in region still a work in progress

Key findings of the Merdeka Center survey on regional extremism showed that interfaith tolerance in the region is still a work in progress.
Key findings of the Merdeka Center survey on regional extremism showed that interfaith tolerance in the region is still a work in progress.PHOTO: ST FILE

Here are the key findings of the Merdeka Center survey on regional extremism involving Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia.

1 Muslim respondents perceived members of their faith favourably, at an average of over 80 points (based on a scale from zero to 100, with the latter being the most favourable) across all countries. But they were less tolerant of those from other religions, scoring them 47 or lower.

Non-Muslims were also happier with people of their own religion, but scored those of other faiths at between 52 and 73.

The exceptions were Muslims and Buddhists in Thailand who were as happy with each other as with those of their own faith. Filipino Christians scored Muslims at just 40.

2 About 6 per cent of Filipino Muslims have "violent tendencies". Malaysian Muslims scored 2 per cent and Indonesian and Thai Muslims 1 per cent.

Nearly a third of Muslims in Malaysia and Thailand reported self-sacrificing tendencies (giving away all their belongings, enduring intense suffering and imprisonment, and giving up their lives) to defend their faith. This attitude was highest among non-Muslims in Indonesia - 48 per cent.

3 Some 52 per cent of Filipino Muslims said violence in the defence of their faith was justifiable (28 per cent in Malaysia, 26 in Indonesia and 21 in Thailand).

 
 

4 The most-supported militants in the Philippines were the Moro Independence Liberation Front at 30.5 per cent, followed by the Moro National Liberation Front (27.1 per cent). The Maute (Islamic State of Lanao) group scored just 4.7 per cent. This was still higher than the support for ISIS (3.8 per cent).

5 Some 21 per cent of Indonesian Muslims back the Islamic Defenders Front, and 8.9 per cent support Hizbut Tahrir. Regional group Jemaah Islamiyah has 12.6 per cent backing. ISIS has the least support among Muslims in Indonesia compared with the other countries - at just 1.3 per cent.

Shannon Teoh

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 20, 2018, with the headline 'Interfaith tolerance in region still a work in progress'. Print Edition | Subscribe