Poll shows NY resistance to mosque

By Aline Reynolds

A Quinnipiac University poll released today showed varying results between neighborhoods, races and religions.

Poll results revealed that 52-31 percent of New York City voters oppose the Muslim mosque and cultural center planned for construction two blocks away from Ground Zero. The remaining 17 percent of voters are undecided. Forty-four percent of New York City voters claim to have a generally favorable opinion of Islam, while 28 percent do not, and 28 percent are undecided. Surprisingly, voters who generally favor Islam support the mosque 54 to 30 percent, while those who think unfavorably of Islam oppose it 86 to 7 percent.

Forty-two percent of voters said the mosque “is an insult to the memory and families of 9/11 victims.”

“New York enjoys a reputation as one of the most tolerant places in America, but New Yorkers are opposed to a proposal to build a mosque two blocks from Ground Zero. Is it because we’re still nursing the wounds from the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, or is it more like bigotry?” said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, in a statement.

“Opponents suggest that the mosque would dishonor the memory of the attack’s victims. There’s little overt hostility to the religion of Islam, although Quinnipiac University’s borough-by-borough poll shows considerable variation,” the statement continued.

Forty-six percent of Manhattan voters support the proposed mosque, whereas 36 percent don’t support it. Manhattan voters say, 68 to 12 percent, that Islam is peaceful, while Staten Island voters say so, 48 to 29 percent. Seventy-three percent of Staten Islanders, meanwhile, oppose the Cordoba House, while 14 percent of them approve it, according to the independent poll.

“Liberal Manhattan accepts the mosque and trusts Islam. Staten Island, where there’s controversy about another proposed mosque, is more skeptical,” said Carroll in the statement.

The poll also showed varying results among New York’s different populations. Whites think 53 to 28 percent that Islam is peaceful, whereas blacks think so, 61 to 12 percent. Forty-two percent of Jewish voters believe Islam to be peaceful, whereas 41 percent of them think Islam encourages violence. White Catholics say 48 to 31 percent is peaceful, as do white Protestants 64 to 18 percent.

Mainstream Islam is a “peaceful religion,” 55 percent of New York City voters say; twenty-two percent, meanwhile, said Islam “encourages violence against non-Muslims.” The remaining 23 percent are undecided.

Fifty-six percent of New York City voters – 58 percent of whites, 50 percent of blacks and 48 percent of Hispanics ­­­- said they personally know a Muslim. Fifty-two percent said they understand Islam “very well” or “fairly well,” while 45 percent said “not very well.”

A mosque near Ground Zero would “foster understanding and teach people that not all Muslims are terrorists,” 42 percent of New York City voters said. Sixty-eight percent of this group supports the mosque.

From June 21 – 28, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,183 New York City-registered voters, with a margin of error of +/- 2.9 percentage points. The Quinnipiac University poll, director Douglas Schwartz, Ph.D., conducts public opinion surveys in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio and nationwide as a public service and for research.