Rome (AsiaNews) Â– Iraqis are happier now than before the invasion of their country. They are optimistic about their futures and are against violence. These are just a few of the results of a survey conducted by BBC and published today on its website.
The survey was made in Feb. 2004 by Oxford Research International (ORI), interviewing 2652 Iraqi adults from 16 parts of the country. The answers people gave help form an image of Iraq which is not readily seen or read in the international mass media, which are more interested in showing strikes being made against occupational forces.
About 70% of those surveyed said life is better or quite good now, while only 29% claim life now is bad. And 56% stated that things are going better than before the war; 70% say they have good prospects for the future, while 6.6% claim their hopes are gloomy.
When asked "What is the biggest problem they face today?", the most common responses were a lack of safety and stability (22.1%) and unemployment (11.8%) followed by inflation (9.5%), shortage of electricity (4.2%), homes (4.1%) and services like water and roads (3.7%). The problems reported on the front pages of newspapers (like terrorist attacks) worry only 1.8% of people surveyed while ethic-religious conflicts are cause for concern for only 0.2% of the population.
Around half of those interviewed (49%) think that the Coalition invasion of Iraq was justified, while 39 % said it was wrong; 41.8% believe the war liberated Iraq while 41.2% say the country was humiliated.
Most Iraqis believe the country's government and people should lend special attention to security, economic recovery, reviving oil supplies, fostering education, rebuilding infrastructure and guaranteeing citizens a dignified level of life. At the same time when asked "Which country should play a part in its rebuilding process?", most people responded Japan (35.9%), the United States (35.7% ), France ( 21.6%) and Great Britain (21.5%).
Just 26% of people surveyed say that, reflecting the secular spirit permeating the county, religious leaders should guarantee religious ideals in society while 18% said it was the government's responsibility.
However, religious leaders are those Iraqis trust the most (42.4%). Those they trust the least are the American and British occupational forces (4.28%). But only 17% consider violence toward Coalition forces to be "acceptable", while 78% said it was "not acceptable". Nearly all people surveyed (96.6%) said violent action directed at Iraqi police was unacceptable.
In terms of trust given to Iraqi political leaders, people say they have a huge problem with those backed by the United States. Ahmed Chalabi, one of the most coveted leaders by the Coalition, is the politician least trusted by Iraqis. Saddam Hussein remains among the top six most respected leaders, even if only representing a minor percentage of public opinion (3.3%). In reality, due to a lack of an overall preference, results from the survey prove that Iraqis are still searching for a meaningful and strong leader. When asked, 49% say this is an absolute priority for them over the next 12 months.
The second need is democracy (28%). To this end, most people said they prefer a single, united state (79%) under a democratic system of government(48.5%) with democratically elected politicians (55.3%). Only 20.5% said they wanted an Islamic state and 13.5% want religious leaders or clergy in politics.
Concerning the presence of Coalition forces, 15.1% said they would like them to abandon the country immediately while 35% want them to stay until an Iraqi government is in place; 18.3% say they want them to stay until the country proves safe.