The proposal to build a mosque near the site of Ground Zero has turned into a controversial political issue that’s exceeded the boundaries of New York to become a national issue. This is due, in part, to President Barack Obama weighing in on it publically.
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf has been leading the effort to build an Islamic center near New York’s World Trade Center andpollsters from Quinnipiac University recently asked voters for their thoughts on that, as well as the Muslim religion, immigration policies and President Barack Obama’s values. A report on the findings was released on Monday.
Most U.S. voters think that Muslims have a right to build a mosque near Ground Zero, but they don’t think it’s appropriate to build one there.
About 70 percent of the people who responded to the poll said the Muslim group has the right to build a mosque and cultural center near Ground Zero, but 63 percent that it is wrong to do so.
In August, the proposed mosque became a national issue when addressed it publicly and that includes the right to build.
“As a citizen and as president, I believe that Muslims have the right to practice their religion everyone else in this country. And that includes the right to build a place to worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances,” he said. “This is America and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable -- the principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country and they will not be treated differently by their government is essential to who we are.”
Obama has taken a popularity hit over the issue and about 44 percent of voters do not like the way he is handling it.
"Illegal immigration and the proposed mosque near Ground Zero are taking a toll on President Barack Obama's standing with American voters," Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
The poll revealed that only 38 percent of American voters have a favorable opinion of Islam and 40 percent have an unfavorable opinion. However, most voters -- 50 to 27 percent – thought mainstream Islam is a peaceful religion, rather than a religion, which encourages violence to non-Muslims.
Pollsters also asked about immigration policy and most people -- 68 percent – want officials to more strictly enforce immigration policy rather than integrate illegal immigrants into U.S. society.
Voters were divided on whether the U.S. should end the practice of granting citizenship to U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants -- 48 percent think the policy should end, and 45 percent say to keep it as it is.
"Many Americans want to end 'birthright citizenship,' an issue some Republican senators want to explore through congressional hearings," Brown said. "But the support for ending 'birthright citizenship' is not overwhelming, and falls along predictable political lines that are consistent with how the Arizona law aimed at limiting illegal immigration is playing across the country."
Democrats favor granting citizenship to children of illegal immigrants, 62 percent to 31 percent. Republicans -- 67 to 27 percent -- said these children should be denied citizenship and Independent voters agreed, 51 to 42 percent.