Half of poll respondents oppose mosque near WTC; majority say people have right to build it

By Sara Kugler Frazier, AP
Friday, September 3, 2010

Poll: NYers conflicted on mosque near WTC

NEW YORK — A new poll finds New Yorkers are conflicted about the construction of a mosque near the World Trade Center site, with half of respondents opposed to the project and a majority saying people have the right to build an Islamic center near ground zero.

The New York Times survey released Friday found 50 percent of respondents opposed to the project, 35 percent in favor and 15 percent undecided.

In a separate question, 62 percent said people have the right to build an Islamic center and mosque near ground zero, while 28 percent said they don’t.

The project is planned for a site two blocks from ground zero. Opponents have said it is too close to the place where Islamic extremists killed more than 2,700 people in 2001, but supporters say it is a matter of religious freedom and argue the center could bridge interfaith understanding.

Muslims have been worshipping at the building since last year. Their presence only recently drew attention after developers moved forward with plans for a new center that will include a swimming pool, gym, restaurant and culinary school.

A spokesman for the project, known as Park51, did not immediately return calls seeking comment on the poll.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been among the most outspoken supporters, fervently defending the plan and harshly criticizing calls for the developers to retreat.

The poll indicated New Yorkers have not been overwhelmingly won over by Bloomberg’s arguments; 26 percent approved of how he had handled the issue, 26 percent disapproved, and 44 percent said they did not know enough to give an opinion.

The Times polled 892 adult New Yorkers from Aug. 27 through Tuesday. The poll had a plus or minus three percentage point margin of error.

For the finding of 50 percent opposed and 35 percent in favor, the question was: “Do you favor or oppose the building of a mosque and Islamic community center two blocks from ground zero?”

The question that asked about the right to build the center was phrased: “Do you think people have the right to build a mosque and Islamic community center near ground zero, or don’t they have that right?”

A Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday had similarly mixed results.

It polled 1,497 registered voters throughout New York state; 54 percent said Muslims have the right to build a mosque near ground zero, but in a separate question, 53 percent said they shouldn’t be allowed to do so because of the sensitivities of victims’ relatives. It had a plus or minus 2.5 percentage point margin of error.


AP Deputy Polling Director Jennifer Agiesta contributed to this story from Washington



New York Times poll data: www.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/poll_results.pdf

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