We are all trying to understand the upheaval in Egypt which is capturing media attention around the world. We must not underestimate the more orderly but also significant developments in Jordan.
The Pew Research Center is an invaluable resource when we are looking at phenomena we haven't the background to analyze independently.
I found the following information from Pew very helpful, I hope you will, too. Let's spend some time on Shabbat morning after services discussing the week's events.
Pew Research Center Resources on Egypt
The Pew Forum's recent demographic study, The Future of the Global Muslim Population, finds that there are an estimated 80 million Muslims in Egypt today, making up 94.7% of Egypt's population. The report projects that Egypt's Muslim population will rise to roughly 105 million by 2030, but the percent of the population that is Muslim is expected to remain the same.
A 2009 Pew Forum report on restrictions on religion around the world found that Egypt is among the countries with the highest government restrictions on religion.
In a survey conducted last spring, the Pew Research Center's Global Attitudes Project found that a majority of Egyptian Muslims said that democracy was preferable to any other kind of government. An overwhelming majority also viewed Islam's influence in politics as positive.
By wide margins, Muslims surveyed in the spring of 2010 believed that Islam's influence in politics was positive rather than negative. In Egypt, Islam's role in politics was seen favorably by an overwhelming 85%-to-2% margin among Muslims.
Global Restrictions on Religion, a new study by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life, finds that 64 nations - about one-third of the countries in the world - have high or very high restrictions on religion. But because some of the most restrictive countries are very populous, nearly 70 percent of the world's 6.8 billion people live in countries with high restrictions on religion, the brunt of which often falls on religious minorities.
Among all regions, the Middle East-North Africa has the highest government and social restrictions on religion, while the Americas are the least restrictive region on both measures. Among the world's 25 most populous countries , Iran, Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan and India stand out as having the most restrictions when both measures are taken into account, while Brazil, Japan, the United States, Italy, South Africa and the United Kingdom have the least.