US poll reveals majority opposition to ‘Ground Zero mosque’, widespread animosity towards Muslims

Opponents of the planned Islamic community center and mosque near Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan have public opinion firmly in their corner. According to a new TIME poll, 61% of respondents oppose the construction of the Park51/Cordoba House project, compared to 26% who support it. More than 70% concur with the premise that proceeding with the plan would be an insult to the victims of the attacks on the World Trade Center.

The survey also revealed that many Americans harbor lingering animosity toward Muslims. Twenty-eight percent of voters do not believe Muslims should be eligible to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court. Nearly one third of the country thinks adherents of Islam should be barred from running for President – slightly higher than the 24% who mistakenly believe that the current occupant of the Oval Office is himself a Muslim.

And while more Americans are open to the idea of having a mosque built in their neighborhoods than near Ground Zero, it’s still not an overwhelming majority; 55% of respondents say they would favor the construction of an Islamic community center and mosque two blocks from their own homes, and an equal number say they believe most Muslims are “Patriotic Americans.

While the poll revealed that prejudice toward Muslims is widespread, respect for other religions traditions remains sturdy. Respondents held the Jewish faith in the highest regard, with 75% professing to hold a favorable impression – just slightly higher than attitudes toward Protestants and Catholics. Fifty-seven percent say they have a favorable view of the Mormon faith, compared to 44% for Muslims. Despite (or perhaps because of) this widespread antipathy, 62% of respondents say they don’t personally know a Muslim American.

Time, 19 August 2010

See also the Financial Times, which reports on another poll, conducted by the Siena Research Institute. This poll (it can be consulted here) found that New Yorkers opposed the contruction of the so-called “Ground Zero mosque” by a margin of 63 to 27 per cent, but it also found that 64 per cent agreed that the developers of the Cordoba House have a constitutional right to build it, as against 28 percent who disagreed.

Gallup has posted the results of a 17 August poll which found that 37% of Americans disapproved of Obama’s comments on the “Ground Zero mosque”, while 20% approved and 43% expressed no view on the matter. Of those who disapproved, 32% held that view “strongly”.