shouldn't colour a nation's attitude to all Muslims, but I can vouch for the fact that for many Americans it has done just that - a national opinion poll held last week showed that 70% of Americans are opposed to the plan to incorporate a mosque into a new Islamic centre.
New York is one of the world's most multi-cultural cities, and when you go there you realise just how many different racial and cultural groups coexist, side by side. The city works pretty well, and although there is some racial and cultural intolerance it's not unduly apparent - people just get on with their lives. This issue seems to have stirred people up in a big way however, and now that their President has shown publicly that he supports the scheme there are bound to be some some pretty forceful protests as opinions polarise.
Are people wrong to feel insulted by the plan? That depends on your point of view - those who lost loved ones in the 9/11 attack are certainly more likely to take offence, and who's to say they're wrong? On the other hand, there has to be time when the wounds which opened that day in the American psyche begin to heal, and perhaps that can begin when the new buildings on the site are completed and occupied. The vast majority of American Muslims must have been shocked outraged when the attacks took place, and they've had to live with the legacy - perhaps America can find it in itself to allow those people some hope for the future, too.
"Has their objections anything to do with religion?"
Not really - this is a cultural thing. Americans don't feel good about Islam because of what happened, not because they can't tolerate different religions - America is awash with different faiths - but because they had their sense of national invulnerability badly shaken on that fateful day, and they haven't yet got over it. For the first time in their lives ordinary Americans realised that the outside world could reach right into their homeland and hurt them, and they didn't like it one bit.