Factbox: Voices from Manhattan on Muslim cultural center

NEW YORK Wed Aug 18, 2010 2:23pm EDT

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Public opinion polls and news media reporting show a majority of Americans oppose construction of a 13-story Muslim cultural center and mosque two blocks from the World Trade Center site that was destroyed on September 11, 2001.

Here are some quotes from people living, working or passing near the New York City site.

RON BISHOP, TOURIST FROM NEAR ATLANTA, GEORGIA:

"As an American I remember being in the south on 9/11 (September 11, 2001). I remember seeing the reaction in many parts of the world and I remember seeing people in Muslim countries celebrating, and it's just very offensive to me that we would continue this celebration by building a religious symbol so close. And the fact that the perpetrators of the attack all claimed to be Muslim, that's part of the offense to me."

MAUREEN MURRAY, FROM NEW JERSEY:

"It's still kind of raw for some of the families, and it just hits them in an emotional place."

CHERNO JALLOH, A MUSLIM ELECTRONICS SALESMAN:

"If you are a religious person, you can say nothing bad about it. It makes no sense to say a mosque cannot be built next to the World Trade Center. It doesn't mean that something is going to happen to the World Trade Center again."

DAN FANELLI:

"It's just a slap in the face for the mosque to be built over here in lower Manhattan, so close to the sacred grounds over here. You know, we don't know if it's funded by some Taliban or something like that. We don't know what's going to be here. I mean I am in favor of freedom of religion, but I don't know why it has to be built right here. It could have been built somewhere else."

KIMBERLEY DOLEY, LAWYER AND NEIGHBOR:

"I believe that someone's religion can be practiced wherever they like. I mean I don't understand why people are so upset. Yes, there was a tragedy here, but it has nothing to do with religion as it is practiced here."

STEVEN OTT:

"I don't equate Islam with terrorism. I think it's pretty clear to anyone who's read a bit about the attacks and about al Qaeda and so on that their point of view is so far afield from what mainstream Islam is all about that I don't equate Muslims with what happened that day."

VINNIE, STEAM-FITTER ON THE WORLD TRADE CENTER UNDER RECONSTRUCTION WHO ASKED NOT TO BE FULLY IDENTIFIED:

"They attacked us. Build it somewhere else. They all hate us. We should hate them back."

GEORGE, A CO-WORKER, WHO ALSO ASKED NOT TO BE FULLY IDENTIFIED:

"See what I'm up against? All the guys I work with are against it. Me personally, I believe in religious freedom. A billion and a half Muslims didn't attack us."

(Reporting by Sreya Banerjee and Daniel Trotta; Editing by Paul Simao)

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