NEW YORK, Sept. 3 (UPI) -- A majority of New York City residents want a planned Muslim community center and mosque moved to a location farther from Ground Zero, a poll indicates.
Sixty-seven percent said Muslims have a right to construct Park51, the name of the proposed center two blocks north of where the World Trade Center stood before it was destroyed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks but that planners should find a different location, The New York Times reported Friday.
Those behind the proposed 13-story project say it would promote moderate Islam and interfaith dialogue.
"Freedom of religion is one of the guarantees we give in this country, so they are free to worship where they choose," said Richard Merton, 56, a Manhattan real estate broker. "I just think it's very bad manners on their part to be so insensitive as to put a mosque in that area."
While 74 percent of Republicans are opposed, Democrats are split, with 43 percent for and 44 percent against.
Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who is reported to be considering running for president in 2012, told a radio interviewer Friday the U.S. government should take action to prevent construction of the community center.
"I think the Congress has the ability to declare the area a national battlefield memorial because I think we should think of the World Trade Center as a battlefield site; this is a war," he said.
Gingrich said New York state authorities could also intervene.
"The attorney general of New York, Andrew Cuomo, could intervene because frankly he has the ability to slow it down for decades if he wants to," Gingrich said in the interview with Wall Builders, a religious-themed radio show.
The Times poll was conducted Aug. 27-31 with 892 adults responding. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.