“Religion in Public”: The Cases of Tunisia and Lebanon

A while ago, I wrote about the extent to which people in Arab countries support democracy vis-a-vis other alternatives. Support for democracy was surprisingly low including in Arab spring countries. What was even more surprising is that Tunisians and Lebanese had somewhat of a preference for religious rule. These two countries are often perceived as the most liberal Arab countries despite the important differences between these nations. I was born and raised in Tunisia and my personal (non-academic) opinion is that people in Arab countries are reluctant to disagree with religious rule because they confound it with religion itself.

Today, I’ll be using data from the Arab Barometer to delve into more specific aspects of this question. First, I’ll start with an overview that compares how people in these two countries perceive religious influence on politics. Then, I will create a new variable that combines two existing variables that code the respondent’s support for religious interference in politics (a higher score means more support). This variable will be used to run a regression and check the extent to which individual-level variables have an impact in that regard.

tunleb = ab5 %>% filter(country == 10 | country == 21)
tunleb = tunleb %>% select(Q1001, country, Q1002, Q201B_13, Q512, Q609A, Q606_1, Q606_2, Q606_3, Q606_4, Q1003)
tunleb = tunleb %>% mutate(
  age = recode(Q1001, "99999=NA"),
  demsuit = recode(Q512, "96:99=NA"),
  prayer = recode(Q609A, "96:99=NA"),
  relint = recode(Q606_1, "98:99=NA; 1=4; 2=3; 3=2; 4=1"),
  relpub = recode(Q606_2, "98:99=NA; 1=4; 2=3; 3=2; 4=1"),
  relinf = recode(Q606_3, "98:99=NA; 1=4; 2=3; 3=2; 4=1"),
  rellife = recode(Q606_4, "98:99=NA; 1=4; 2=3; 3=2; 4=1"),
  edu = recode(Q1003, "96:99=NA"),
  trustrel = recode(Q201B_13, "98:99=NA; 1=4; 2=3; 3=2; 4=1"))
tunleb = tunleb %>% mutate(
  female = ifelse(Q1002 == 2, 1, 0))
tunleb = tunleb %>% mutate(
  cntry = ifelse(country == 21, "Tunisia", "Lebanon"))
tunleb = tunleb %>% select(cntry, country, age, female, demsuit, prayer, relint, relpub, relinf, rellife, edu, trustrel)
tunleb = select(tunleb, -trustrel)
tunleb = tunleb %>% filter(!is.na(relint))
tunleb = tunleb %>% filter(!is.na(relpub))
tunleb = tunleb %>% filter(!is.na(relinf))
tunleb = tunleb %>% filter(!is.na(rellife))

aaa1 = tunleb %>% 
  group_by(cntry) %>% 
  ct(relint) %>% 
  mutate(issue = "Religious leaders should not interfere in voters \ndecisions in elections.") %>% 
  mutate(agrmnt = relint)
aaa2 = tunleb %>% 
  group_by(cntry) %>% 
  ct(relpub) %>% 
  mutate(issue = "Your country is better off if religious \npeople hold public positions in the state.") %>% 
  mutate(agrmnt = relpub)
aaa3 = tunleb %>% 
  group_by(cntry) %>% 
  ct(relinf) %>% 
  mutate(issue = "Religious clerics should have influence over \nthe decisions of government.") %>% 
  mutate(agrmnt = relinf)
aaa4 = tunleb %>% 
  group_by(cntry) %>% 
  ct(rellife) %>% 
  mutate(issue = "Religious practice is a private matter and \nshould be separated from socio-economic life.") %>% 
  mutate(agrmnt = rellife)
graph <- bind_df("aaa")

graph %>%
  ggplot(., aes(y=pct, x= agrmnt, color = cntry)) +
  geom_smooth(se = FALSE) +
  theme_minimal() +
  facet_wrap(~ issue, ncol =2) +
  labs(title = "Religion and Politics - Tunisia and Lebanon", x = "- Agreement +", y = "", caption = "Data: Arab Barometer") +
  scale_y_continuous(labels = percent) +
  theme(legend.position = "bottom") +
  scale_color_manual(values = c("orange2", "royalblue4")) +
  theme(text=element_text(size=19, family="saira")) +
  theme(legend.title = element_blank())
tunleb = tunleb %>% mutate(
  relscore = relinf + relpub)
tun = tunleb %>% filter(cntry == "Tunisia")
leb = tunleb %>% filter(cntry == "Lebanon")
tunm = lm(relscore ~ age + female + edu + prayer + demsuit, data = tun)
ttun = tidy(tunm)
ttun = ttun %>% mutate(country = "Tunisia")
lebm = lm(relscore ~ age + female + edu + prayer + demsuit, data = leb)
tleb = tidy(lebm)
tleb = tleb %>% mutate(country = "Lebanon")

allm = rbind(ttun, tleb) %>%
  relabel_predictors(age = "Age",
                     female = "Female",
                     edu = "Education",
                     prayer = "- Prayer +",
                     demsuit = "- Views on Democracy +")
allm = allm %>% group_by(country) %>% filter(term != "(Intercept)")
allm = allm %>% mutate(model = country)
dwplot(allm, dot_args = list(size = 3, aes(colour = model, shape = model))) +
  geom_vline(xintercept = 0, colour = "grey50", linetype = 2)  +
  theme_minimal() +
  xlab("Coefficient Estimate") +
  scale_colour_manual(
                      name="Country",
                      values = c("royalblue4", "orange2")) +
  scale_shape_discrete(
                       name="Country") + 
  theme(text = element_text(size = 18, family = "saira")) + 
  theme(legend.position = "bottom") +
  ggtitle("Views on Religious Interference with Politics - Tunisia and Lebanon")