NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Freedom House Finds Growing Gap Between Islamic Countries And The Rest

December 26, 2001

The good news from Freedom House's annual report is that more people are living under freedom and democracy in the world. The bad news is that there is a growing freedom gap between Islamic countries and the rest of the world.

Of the world's 192 countries, 121 are electoral democracies. However, only 11 of the 47 nations with an Islamic majority have democratically elected governments -- thus a non-Islamic country is more than three times likely to be democratic than an Islamic state.

Not all democracies are Free countries, where people enjoy a broad range of rights. A few are Partly Free, and corruption, dominant ruling parties, and sometimes ethnic or religious strife are the norm. In Unfree countries, people are denied basic political rights and civil liberties.

  • In fact, off the states with an Islamic majority, only one, Mali, is rated Free, 18 are rated Partly Free, and 28 are considered Not Free.
  • By contrast, in the non-Islamic world, 85 countries are Free, 40 are Partly Free and 20 are Not Free.

The gap in freedom has only widened over the last 20 years. While every other region of the world has registered significant gains for democracy and freedom, the countries of the Islamic world have experienced a significant increase in repression.

The report also notes a link between freedom and economic progress. Countries rated Free account for $27.1 trillion of the world's annual gross domestic product (GDP) and represent 87 percent of global economic activity. By contrast, Partly Free countries account for only $2.0 trillion in output (6 percent), and Not Free countries produce only $2.2 trillion (7 percent).

Source: "Freedom In The World 2002: The Democracy Gap," December 2001, Freedom House, 1319 18th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036, (202) 296-5101.


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