Mayor Bloomberg is not likely to be pleased at the results of a new New York Times poll examining attitudes toward the proposed Muslim community center and mosque at ground zero. The survey indicates that most New Yorkers are not in favor of the current location of the mosque; 67 percent of respondents said that “while Muslims had a right to construct the center near Ground Zero, they should find a different site.” And the results indicate a more widespread uneasiness in feelings toward Muslims in general.
Nearly nine years after the Sept. 11 attacks ignited a wave of anxiety about Muslims, many in the country’s biggest and arguably most cosmopolitan city still have an uneasy relationship with Islam. One-fifth of New Yorkers acknowledged animosity toward Muslims. Thirty-three percent said that compared with other American citizens, Muslims were more sympathetic to terrorists. And nearly 60 percent said people they know had negative feelings toward Muslims because of 9/11.
Opposition to the plan is strongest among those who live in the outer boroughs (54 percent in the Bronx are opposed), those who make under $50,000 (only 31 percent in support), and those over the age of 45 (60 percent opposed). The poll, conducted from August 27 to 31 among 892 adults, also revealed — intriguingly but perhaps unsurprisingly — that many New Yorkers are conflicted about their feelings regarding the controversial issue, as a number of those polled gave almost contradictory explanations to back up their answers.
“Freedom of religion is one of the guarantees we give in this country, so they are free to worship where they chose,” 56-year-old real estate broker Richard Merton told the Times. “I just think it’s very bad manners on their part to be so insensitive as to put a mosque in that area.”
This uncertainty is also indicated by the finding that 38 percent of the respondents who did express support for the plan said later, during follow-up questioning, that they would actually prefer it to be moved farther away from the ground-zero site.