Support for Sharia law cools as Islamist rebels battle in country's north
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Malians' confidence in their governmental institutions plummeted in late 2012, as Islamist rebels took control over much of the northern parts of the country and after a military coup in March 2012 overthrew President Amadou Toumani Toure. Malians' faith in their national government fell 22 percentage points to 49% in November 2012, from 71% in 2011. Confidence in the military dropped 25 points and support for the judiciary declined 17 points.
Gallup in 2012 could not poll in the northern regions of Mopti, Timbuktu, Gao, and Kidal because of the presence of rebels. The excluded areas account for an estimated 24% of Mali's population. However, the decline in confidence remains, even when controlling for regional exclusions. Still, because Gallup excluded these northern regions in 2012, it is unclear how Northerners would have evaluated the government. (See page 2 for Malians' attitudes by year in only those regions not excluded in 2012.)
Malians' confidence in the honesty of the country's elections is also down -- to 27% in 2012, from 44% in 2011 -- and more are now saying that there is widespread corruption in the government -- 84% in 2012 vs. 74% in 2011. These insights provide further evidence that Malians are becoming increasingly unhappy with the country's new military-backed government.
French troops entered Mali in early January 2013 in attempts to reverse gains made by Islamic rebels associated with al-Qaeda's North African wing al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. The Islamic militants have latched onto an insurgency started in early 2012 by the northern secular group National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad (MNLA), which was initially fighting for an independent homeland. The militants, including those belonging to the homegrown hardline Islamist movement Ansar Dine, appear to have overtaken the original spirit of the MNLA movement and turned it into their own fight for Sharia law.
Islamist Rebel Groups' Views on Sharia Not in Line With Malians' Desires
The Islamist rebels have sought to institute a strict version of Islamic Sharia law in rebel-held territory since seizing control of northern Mali in April 2012, destroying religious shrines in Timbuktu and amputating the hands and feet of accused criminals. But, since the beginning of the conflict, Malians' support for Sharia as a source of legislation has decreased significantly, with slightly more than half (51%) saying that Sharia should not be a source of legislation, up from 13% in 2010.
Though many of Mali's traditionally mainstream religious leaders have voiced their opposition to the extremists, Malians now see a lesser role in politics for the country's religious scholars and leaders. More Malians in 2012 said that religious leaders should have no role in writing national laws than did two years prior -- 17% vs. 5%, respectively.
The United Nations Security Council this week gave its support to the French and Malian military operations in the country, agreeing to deploy West African troops to the country. The U.S. and U.K. have also committed logistical support. Western powers begin operations in Mali with a significant amount of goodwill, as Malians overwhelming approve of the leadership of the U.S. (87%), U.K. (80%), and France (70%). And Malians' growing dissatisfaction with their government may point to support in the country for these foreign efforts and a return to what was before the military coup in March 2012. The international intervention in Mali is evolving rapidly, however, and the ultimate outcome will affect Malians' views of their government and external powers, especially France.
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Results are based on 1,000 face-to-face interviews each year with adults, aged 15 and older. Surveys were conducted Oct. 22-Nov. 3, 2012, Oct. 23-Nov. 4, 2011, and Oct. 9-Oct. 22, 2010. In 2012, the regions of Mopti, Timbuktu, Gao, and Kidal were excluded because of insecurity. These exclusions represent roughly 16% of the Malian population. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3.6 percentage points. The margin of error reflects the influence of data weighting. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
For more complete methodology and specific survey dates, please review Gallup's Country Data Set details.