New York: More than two thirds of New
Yorkers do not want Muslims to build an Islamic center near
the site of the 9/11 attacks on Manhattan, although nearly all
agree that they have the legal right, a poll said on Friday.
The poll by Quinnipiac University showed 67 per cent of
voters across New York state want the mosque and community
center to be moved further from Ground Zero than the currently
proposed site two blocks away.
The poll found that 57 per cent of respondents thought
the project was "wrong," while 32 per cent said it was
"appropriate" -- with Republicans overwhelming opposed, by 90
per cent, and Democrats split 50-34 per cent.
However, 80 per cent agreed the project was legally
allowed to go ahead.
"Almost all New Yorkers agree that America`s belief in
freedom of religion gives Muslims the right to build the
mosque," Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac
University Polling Institute, said.
Debate over the mosque`s future has become a volatile
issue ahead of November 2 legislative and state elections.
Opponents to the planned Islamic center near the site of
the September 11, 2001 attacks say its presence there would be
offensive to the memory of the 2,752 people killed in the
World Trade Center by Islamist militants.
Critics on the right and in the increasingly influential
Tea Party movement go further, claiming the positioning of a
mosque so close to Ground Zero desecrates sacred ground and
would celebrate terrorism.
The New York imam behind the project, Feisal Abdul Rauf,
says he wants to create a showcase for moderate Muslims and
promote post-9/11 healing between Americans as a whole and the
often marginalised Muslim community.
New York`s mayor, Michael Bloomberg, and President Barack
Obama have spoken repeatedly in support of the right of
Muslims to build a mosque where they please.