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Poll finds few differences between young Indonesian, Malaysian muslims
Jakarta Globe - June 15, 2011
Nearly all Indonesian youths deemed career success important, as did 74 percent of their Malaysian counterparts. All rated individual financial success their top priority, and while family and religion remained important parts of their identities, a generation gap may be growing as they choose a more "moderate" path than their parents.
Respondents surveyed by the Geothe-Institut, Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom and Lembaga Survei Indonesia in both countries were family-oriented, with parents who were "nurturing and raised them well."
Still, 85.5 percent of Malaysians desired a different upbringing for their children, while 51.4 percent of Indonesians said they would raise their children differently.
And although over 90 percent of youth in both countries were raised in religious households, three quarters of the respondents said they understood "rather little of the verses in the Qur'an," which over 60 percent only read periodically. Only 60 percent always fast during Ramadan.
But despite their lax adherence to certain religious obligations, they were nearly unanimous in their rejection of premarital sex, homosexuality and revealing clothing.
A majority in both countries approve of the punishments in canonical Islamic law, though Malaysians were far more enthusiastic in their support with 92 percent in favor of whipping alcohol offenders and 96 percent calling for the death penalty for murderers, both of which earned the support of around two thirds of their Indonesian counterparts.
Malaysians' greater conservatism was not limited to Islamic law. They are more likely to disagree with polygamy, and just 40 percent believe women should wear headscarves, as compared with nearly 70 percent of Malaysians.
The survey also attributes Malaysians' desire for large families, with 53.3 percent hoping for more than two children, to a conservative interpretation of Islam in which children are "God's gift." In Indonesia, on the other hand, family planning initiatives seem to have been effective, as 78.4 percent plan to have no more than two children.
Still, fewer than 10 percent would be willing to marry someone of a different religion, while nearly 40 percent of Malaysians would consider interfaith marriage.
While their religious views diverged, the respondents shared a sunny outlook on their futures, and their countries', an optimism that is even more striking among the Indonesians, who have experienced a slower recovery from the 1997 monetary crisis, the 2004 tsunami that shook the country and a challenging job market.
All were between age 15 and 25, and grew up after their countries achieved independence, during periods of rapid economic growth and globalization. The stable environment and optimism rubbed off, as most are "certain" economic circumstances will improve and nearly 95 percent are happy with their lives.