The New York Times polled residents of New York City, asking for people’s views on the Park 51 Muslim community center set to be built two blocks from Ground Zero. And from the poll, a picture emerges of a city that opposes the building of the center — but simultaneously acknowledges by a wide margin the right of Muslims to build it.
“Do you favor or oppose the building of a mosque and Islamic community center two blocks from Ground Zero?” Here the answer was 35% favor to 50% oppose. Interestingly, the poll continued to show a pattern that has emerged before, of opposition actually being lower in Manhattan itself, at only 41%.
“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?” The answer becomes 62% that they have that right, to 28% who say that Muslims do not have that right. (A more general question came immediately before, asking about any house of worship near Ground Zero — the answer was 72%-21%.)
The poll then asked: “Which of the following statements comes closest to your opinion? 1. The mosque and Islamic community center should be built near Ground Zero because moving it would compromise American values, OR 2. The mosque and Islamic community center should NOT be built because while Muslims have the right to build the mosque at the site near Ground Zero, they should find a less controversial location.” Statement 1 received 27% support, to 67% on the second statement.
Among the 67% who said that the center should not be built near Ground Zero, a follow-up was asked — getting into the particulars of the “Mosque Exclusion Zone.”
“How far from Ground Zero would you want the mosque and Islamic community center to be built — 5 to 10 blocks away, 10 to 20 blocks away or more than 20 blocks away?”
Out of the 67%, there were 7% of the total respondents who said that 5-10 blocks was acceptable. Then 18% said 10-20 blocks. Another 20% said that it should be more than 20 blocks away, and another 9% would still oppose it no matter what (the no-mosques position).
On another topic, New Yorkers were asked about the reactions of politicians to the controversy. By a 52%-41% margin, they said that local politicians should take a stand on the issue — and they also said by a 64%-32% margin that politicians from outside the New York area should not take a stand on it.
Respondents were also asked whether they approved or disapproved of Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s (I) handling of the issue — resulting in an even 26%-26% answer, with very high undecideds. Respondents approved of Gov. David Paterson’s (D) handling of it by a similarly uncertain 22%-18%. As for President Obama, the answer here is 32%-27%, again with very high undecideds.