In a survey released last month by the Pew Research Center, researchers found a strong correlation across 39 predominately-Muslim countries between internet use and open attitudes towards Western culture. The full survey, spanning regions in the Middle East, Europe, Africa and Asia, included over 38,000 face-to-face conversations across more than 80 different languages.
"Muslims who use the internet are much more likely than other Muslims to have a favorable opinion of Western movies, music and television," the report reads. Internet use varied considerably across the different countries, from 59% of Muslims in Kosovo using it, to just 2% in Afghanistan.
Overall, a median of 18% reported using the internet — a population that tended to be younger and better educated than those who did not.
Internet use and Western Culture:
Though age was (unsurprisingly) found to be the best indicator of an individual's openness towards Western culture, internet use was a close second: "internet users are 17 percentage points more favorable toward Western entertainment than are Muslims who do not use the internet," the report explains.
Young people ages 18-34 were found to be 19 percentage points more favorable towards Western media than those who were older.
"By contrast, religiously observant Muslims — those who say they pray several times a day — are 11 percentage points less likely to have favorable views of Western movies, music and television, after controlling other factors."
Also unsurprisingly, attitudes towards Western media varied considerably by region. Muslims in southern and Eastern Europe were the most favorable, at 77% in Albania, 69% in Kosovo, and 62% in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Fewer than half of all Muslims surveyed in Middle Eastern and North African countries enjoyed Western media, with the exception of Morocco (52%).
Internet Use and Religion:
Internet use was also found to affect attitudes towards Islam and Christianity, with users reportedly seeing more common ground between the two religions than non-users. Morocco, again, stands out as an exception.
"Internet use is associated with a more open attitude toward Christianity," the report finds, although was not found to significantly affect the way Muslims interpreted Islam itself. "Muslims who use the Internet are about as likely as those who do not use it to say that Islam is the only path to heaven … [and] are about equally inclined to say that Islam has only one true interpretation."