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Islamic World

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The Muslim World, as reported in the September 13, 2003, issue of The Economist, citing The Muslim Council of Britain and the CIA, had the following population:

  • 10.4 million Muslims in Canada and the United States
  • 2.2 million Muslims in Latin and Central America
  • 10.0 million Muslims in the European Union
  • few or none in Eastern Europe, Norway
  • 62.4 million Muslims in Turkey
  • 284.4 million Muslims in the Arab League including Iraq (with its 15 million Shia)
  • 254.0 Muslims in Sub-Saharan Africa
  • 65.4 million Muslims (90% Shia) in Iran
  • 48.5 million Muslims in Azerbaijan and the "Stans" (Uzebekistan, Tajikstan, etc.)
  • 26.7 million Muslims in Russia
  • 22.7 million Muslims in Afghanistan
  • 230.0 million Muslims in Pakistan and Bangladesh
  • 133.3 million Muslims in India - the world's largest minority population
  • 133.1 million Muslims in China - a close second
  • 196.3 million Muslims in Indonesia
  • 30.0 million Muslims in the rest of South-East Asia, especially Malaysia
  • few or none in Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Mongolia, or the South Pacific
  • 1.5 billion people total

Only recently has polling of the entire Muslim World been published in the press. The Arabic language Al-Jazeera satellite TV network is probably the only source viewed by most decision-makers throughout these nations..

Political Islam is a significant political force in all Muslim-majority countries - it has however a dizzying array of definition problems. Islamic parties in democratic countries like Turkey and (sometimes) Pakistan and Algeria have taken power, but are often moderate. In Morocco for instance, the Islamists recently invited Jews to join the party.

Friendly relations between Jewish groups and Islamists are also recorded even in the West Bank, where Neturei Karta (anti-Zionist Orthodox Jewish) leader Rabbi Mosche Hirsch served as the Minister for Jewish Affairs in the Fatah wing of the PLO.

Perceptions of a War on Islam by the United States and government of Israel seemed to be widespread in mid-2003 after the early 2003 invasion of Iraq. Islamic parties generally gained in elections, and a clear majority of Muslims polled in these nations expressed support for Osama bin Laden's campaign to rid the Muslim world of non-Muslim influences. Specifically, for him to "do the right thing". These numbers were up quite substantially from pre-invasion polls.

The Organization of Islamic Conference formed in 1969 is the only regular forum where all of these nations are actively co-operating as Muslim nations. The much smaller Arab League and the OPEC forum are focused on somewhat different issues, but also tend to serve as places where issues between the Muslim and non-Muslim world come up. Russia joined the OIC in mid-2003.

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