The number of Americans viewing Islam favourably has declined since 2005, but there is little change in those saying that Islam is more likely than other religions to encourage violence, according to a new poll.
As was the case a year ago, slightly more people say the Islamic religion does not encourage violence more than other religions (42 per cent) than say that it does (35 per cent), the poll by the nonpartisan Pew Research Centre found.
Amid controversy over the proposed construction of an Islamic cultural centre and mosque near the former site of the World Trade Centre, more Americans agree with those who object to the building of the centre than with the supporters of the project (51 per cent to 34 per cent).
At the same time, 62 per cent say that Muslims should have the same rights as other religious groups to build houses of worship in their local communities; just 25 per cent say local communities should be able to block mosques in their area if they do not want them.
But more people have unfavourable than favourable views of Islam by 38 per cent to 30 per cent. In 2005, it was reversed: 41 per cent had favourable views, 36 per cent unfavourable.
Republicans voiced negative views of Muslims by more than 2-1, with 54 voicing unfavourable views and 21 per cent giving positive ones. Among Democrats, 41 per cent had favourable opinions while 27 per cent viewed them negatively.
Views of Muslims were also unfavourable among independents, older people and those with less education.
While those who are younger than 50 have mixed views of Islam, 44 per cent among those older than 50 have an unfavourable opinion of Islam as against 24 per cent favourable.
By a margin of 47 per cent to 28 per cent, college graduates express favourable opinions of Islam; pluralities of those with less education express unfavourable views.
The survey was conducted Aug 19-22 involved landline and cell telephone interviews with 1,003 randomly chosen adults. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.