Egyptians back sharia law, end of Israel treaty, poll shows

Similar to Iran's revolution decades ago, Egypt's government may become a theocracy ruled by religious tyrants.

A majority of Egyptians wants the country’s peace treaty with Israel to be annulled and says its laws should “strictly” follow the teachings of the Koran, a survey by Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project found.

Fifty-four percent of 1,000 Egyptians surveyed want the government to end the peace treaty with the Jewish state, Pew said in an emailed statement. About 60 percent of those surveyed said “laws should strictly follow the teachings” of Islam’s holy book.

The Washington-based center conducted the survey between March 24 and April 7, more than a month after the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, who had maintained the peace treaty with Israel signed in 1979 by his predecessor Anwar Sadat.

“Egyptians of all ages, from all walks of life, and parts of the country continue to celebrate the dramatic political changes their nation has undergone,” Pew said in the release. “Overwhelmingly, they say it is good that former president Hosni Mubarak is gone.”

Under Mubarak, Egypt had maintained a blockade of the Gaza Strip with Israel after the Islamist movement Hamas took power in the coastal enclave in 2007. The two countries signed a 2005 agreement to exempt Egyptian exports to the US from custom tariffs if they contained an Israeli component. Egypt also sells natural gas to Israel, and prosecutors last week ordered the detention of former Oil Minister Sameh Fahmy and five ex- officials amid an investigation into the agreement.

The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s biggest opposition group during Mubarak’s three-decade rule, repeatedly criticized the former president for maintaining what it saw as close ties with Israel.

Seventy-five percent of Egyptians surveyed had a favourable view of the Islamist group, though only 17 percent said the Brotherhood should lead the next government, the survey found. It said the margin of error for the poll is four percentage points.

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