December 02, 2003
UNFORCED ERROR, INDEED: This article in The New Republic says that U.S. policy is costing us influence in majority-Muslim Suriname ("while Islam is the majority faith in this nation of 450,000, there are significant minorities of Christians, Jews, Hindus, and animists"). I'm entirely prepared to believe that we're blowing the diplomacy, but the CIA factbook shows this breakdown of religions:
Hindu 27.4%, Muslim 19.6%, Roman Catholic 22.8%, Protestant 25.2% (predominantly Moravian), indigenous beliefs 5%
That would make Islam the third-largest religion in Suriname (or fourth if you count Catholic and Protestant as separate), and nowhere near a majority. (And this figure seems consistent, based on Google. Even the rather, um, optimistic Ummah.com claims only 25% Muslims for Suriname, and pretty much everyone else is at the CIA figure.). The rest of the analysis may well be true -- I'm no expert on Suriname -- but this doesn't exactly build confidence. I once made a similar mistake with regard to Malawi, but then, I'm not a Soref Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and I wasn't holding myself out as having, you know, actual firsthand knowledge of Malawi. Then again, Suriname isn't in the Near East!