WASHINGTON: Around 32 per cent of Americans say Muslims should be barred from running for US president, while 28 per cent believe they should be prohibited from serving on the US Supreme Court, and 25 per cent hold the view that most US Muslims do not believe in US values.
This was revealed in two polls carried out by Time magazine and Pew, amid a furor over a planned mosque near New York's "Ground Zero."
According to the polls, roughly one in five Americans also believes President Barack Obama is a Muslim. About 30 per cent of Americans say followers of Islam should be barred from running for president or serving on the US Supreme Court, according to one of the surveys, published in Time magazine and available on Time.com.
The Time poll found 24 per cent of the respondents said Obama, a Christian church-goer who has repeatedly spoken out about his faith, is a Muslim, while 18 per cent said the same in a study from the non-partisan Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.
The White House responded by underlining that Obama "is a committed Christian" and that his "faith is a part of who he is, but not a part of what the public or the media is focused on every day."
Deputy communications director Jen Psaki said in a statement that Obama relied on his faith in dealing with challenges like the sour US economy and the Iraq war "but he doesn't wear it on his sleeve."
Pew took its poll before Obama waded last week into a bitter dispute over plans for a mosque and community center roughly two blocks from the New York site of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Time conducted its survey afterwards.
Obama on Friday affirmed the right to build on religious freedom grounds, and on Saturday clarified that he was not taking a stand on the "wisdom" of doing so.
Pew noted the overall number of those saying Obama is a Muslim had spiked from 11 per cent in March 2009 but that the view "is more widespread among his political opponents than among his backers."
Still, "even among many of his supporters and allies, less than half now say Obama is a Christian. Among Democrats, for instance, 46 per cent say Obama is a Christian, down from 55 per cent in March 2009," said Pew.
Just 34 per cent of Pew's respondents overall correctly identified him as a Christian, down from 48 percent from March 2009, and 43 per cent said they did not know his religion, up from 34 per cent.
Time found 47 per cent of its sample labeled Obama a Christian, while 24 per cent said they did not know his religion.
Forty-six percent said Islam was more likely than other religions to encourage violence against non-believers, against 39 per cent who said "about the same" and six per cent who said it was less likely to do so, said Time.
Asked about the controversial mosque project in New York, 23 per cent said it would serve as a symbol of religious tolerance, 44 per cent said it would be "an insult" to the victims of 9-11 and 27 percent said it would be both.
Overall, just 26 per cent supported the project, while 61 percent said it should not be built, according to Time.
The poll also found 34 per cent of respondents would oppose the construction two blocks from their home of a Muslim community center and place of worship for major religions in the United States.
But 24 per cent said they would oppose such a project by Mormons; 18 per cent would oppose one for Jews; and 14 per cent would oppose one for Catholics.
A senior White House aide, requesting anonymity, noted that 60 per cent of those who said the president was a Muslim learned it from the media and charged that his "faith is often maligned and distorted by critics."
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