Mr. Morsi is in detention along with senior Muslim Brotherhood figures. Morsi was replaced on Thursday by Adly Mansour - Egypt's chief justice - who has promised to hold elections soon but gave no date.
Two recent Pew Research reports give context to these events in Egypt. First, in the most recent analysis by Pew researchers Neha Sahgal and Brian Grim, they note that in the year following the Arab Spring, Egypt was home to some of the most intense government restrictions on religion. On top of that, they note that the government’s restrictions also are coupled with a Muslim public that is considerably less tolerant of religious pluralism than Muslims elsewhere.
Sahgal and Grim report that Pew Research public opinion polling conducted in Egypt during a similar time frame (November-December 2011) shows that many Egyptian Muslims recognize the lack of religious freedom in their society. When asked whether they are very free, somewhat free, not too free or not at all free to practice their religion, fewer than half of Egyptian Muslims (46%) answer “very free.” Fewer still think non-Muslims in Egypt are very free to practice their faith (31%). By contrast, a median of 78% of Muslims across the 39 countries polled in Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia, say they are very free to practice their religion, and 73% say non-Muslims in their country are free to practice their faith.
In a separate analysis, the Weekly Number noted that Egypt was one of two countries where Muslims expressed in lowest numbers that others were very free to practice their faith: Egypt (31%) and Uzbekistan (26%).
Overall, about one-in-five Muslims in Egypt (18%) describe non-Muslims as not too free or not at all free to practice their religion, according to Sahgal and Grim's analysis. However, Egyptian Muslims are not necessarily troubled by this perceived lack of religious freedom: Two-thirds of those who say non-Muslims in Egypt are not too free or not all free to practice their faith say this is a good thing.
Sahgal and Grim also report that, like many Muslim publics surveyed around the world, a majority of Egyptian Muslims (74%) want sharia, or Islamic law, enshrined as the official law of the land. However, Egypt is one of the few countries where a clear majority (74%) of sharia supporters say both Muslims and non-Muslims in their country should be subject to Islamic law. Worldwide, a median of 39% of Muslims who favor enshrining Islamic law say sharia should apply to Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
Egyptian Muslims also back criminalizing apostasy, or leaving Islam for another religion, according to Sahgal and Grim's analysis. An overwhelming majority of Egyptian Muslims (88%), say converting away from Islam should be punishable by death. Among the 37 countries where the question was asked, a median of 28% of Muslims say apostates should be subject to the death penalty.
Those actions earn Egypt an overall score of 8.9 out of 10 on the 2011 Government Restrictions Index — a scale developed by Pew Research to gauge government restrictions on religion in nearly 200 countries and territories over time. That’s much higher than Middle Eastern-North African countries as a whole, where the median index score (including Egypt’s) is 5.9.
- For additional analysis of Muslim public opinion on religious freedom, see Muslim opinions vary on how free people of other religions are to practice their faiths.
- See additional Weekly Number analysis on the situation of Coptic Christians.
- For an discussion of how Egypt fits in with overall global restrictions on religion, see TEDx Talk: The numbers of religious freedom.