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 Friday.
The poll by Quinnipiac University showed 67 percent 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 percent of respondents thought the project was “wrong,” while 32 percent said it was “appropriate” — with Republicans overwhelming opposed, by 90 percent, and Democrats split 50-34 percent.
However, 80 percent 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 marginalized 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.