A recent opinion poll shows an increasing number of people in the United States believe that President Barack Obama is Muslim rather than Christian.
The nonpartisan Pew Research Center and its affiliated Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life carried out a poll on more than 3,000 people across the United States.
The poll shows that 34 percent believe Obama is a Christian. The figure is down 14 percentage points from the ratio of those surveyed in March last year. 18 percent said Obama is a Muslim, which is an increase of 7 percentage points.
However, roughly 30 percent of Republicans surveyed believe he is a Muslim.
Sixty percent of those who believed Obama is Muslim said they got their information from media reports.
The findings seem to reflect the criticism leveled against Obama by conservative media that question if he is an American citizen.
The poll was conducted before Obama expressed his support for a plan to build a mosque and Muslim cultural center in Manhattan. The site is located just 2 blocks from the site of the new World Trade Center memorial being built to commemorate the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001.
Obama invited diplomats from Islamic countries and members of the US Muslim community to the White House last week. He said that he believes Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in the United States. He said that includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances.
The comments by Obama drew criticism from not just Republicans but also from Democrats. Republicans are likely to intensify attacks against Obama over the mosque issue toward the midterm election scheduled for November.