Photographer: Thomas Codex/AFP via Getty Images

This Is Where Intolerance Is Highest on Religion, Culture, Race

  • Conflicts drive belief in superiority, poll findings show
  • Countries with highest intolerance are suffering conflicts

At a time when media headlines point to a spike in global intolerance, here’s some good news: most people around the world don’t say they believe any single race, religion or culture is better than another.

That was the finding of a multi-nation WIN/Gallup International poll conducted at the end of last year and published this week. The majority of people and more than half of the 66 countries surveyed say there’s no such thing as racial, religious or cultural superiority. But the issue divides many, and a handful, all of which are troubled nations with developing economies, says superiority does exits.

“Overall the global tolerance towards racial, religious and cultural differences is a dominating norm,” Kancho Stoychev, president of Gallup International Association, said in a statement. “Exceptions from this norm are occurring in countries, nations or regions with serious internal or external conflicts.”

The findings provide some ground for optimism even amid an increase in news reports of attacks linked to intolerance. Since last week, a man shouting anti-Muslim slogans killed two people in Portland, Oregon, a suicide bomber killed 22 people at a concert in Manchester, England and gunmen shot dead 26 Christian Copts in Egypt’s Minya province. The survey also coincides with a report released this week by the Institute of Economics and Peace that said despite conflicts in the Middle East, terrorism in Europe, and the rise of nationalist parties, the world is actually becoming more peaceful. At the same time, that report found the U.S. dropped most in rankings among peaceful countries.

According to the Gallup International survey, national majorities that agreed or strongly agreed that superiority exists were more likely to share that belief across the categories of religion, race and culture. The eight countries where that was most the case were Paraguay, Bangladesh, the Palestinian territories, Ghana, Lebanon, Nigeria, Indonesia and Macedonia.

The countries where people most disagreed with the idea that there is superiority in the three categories included Sweden, France, Iceland, Latvia, Spain, Argentina, Canada and Portugal. In the U.S., 23 percent of people agreed or strongly agreed that some races are superior to others, compared with 73 percent who disagreed or strongly disagreed. Almost a third said some religions are better than others, and 36 percent said some cultures are superior.

The poll was conducted from October to December, 2016 among 66,541 people, about 1,000 people in each country. It was carried out by phone, in person, or on-line and had a margin of error of 3 to 5 percentage points.

The main reasons that spread feelings of superiority are probably sharp internal conflicts, significant external instability and an expectation of outside intervention, and deep transformations within societies, Gallup International said.

“It is evident that all those countries which feel stable and not threatened show low levels of religious, cultural or racial superiority. And vice versa,” it said.

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