Update @ 9:05p: Mayor Mike Bloomberg has chimed in as well, saying the attack on Ahmed Sharif stands against "everything New Yorkers believe." Again, from the Daily News:
Mayor Bloomberg, who spoke to the Sharif and invited him to City Hall Friday, said the unprovoked attack was clearly "motivated by anti-Muslim bias."
"I assured him that ethnic or religious bias has no place in our city," Bloomberg said of his conversation with Sharif.
"This attack runs counter to everything that New Yorkers believe, no matter what God we pray to."
The attacker, 21-year-old Michael Enright, had just returned from filming the Marines in Afghanistan, according to the News.
Bloomberg has been among the most vocal elected officials in defending the Cordoba House development in lower Manhattan. Earlier this month, he gave an emotional speech on Governor’s Island not just endorsing the project but standing up for the idea that immigration and religious plurality are the city’s lifeblood–things to be celebrated and built upon rather than feared and policed. He repeated those themes at an Iftar dinner last night. Talking Points Memo has video from the event.
Update @ 4:55p: Reports have now surfaced that the stabber, Michael Enright, was a volunteer filmmaker for Intersections International, a group that promotes peace between religions and that has been among the supporters of the Cordoba House development in lower Manhattan, according to the Daily News. The News also adds details from Commissioner Ray Kelly’s press conference today:
"As the cab was proceeding, the passenger asked, ‘Are you Muslim?’ and the driver said that he was,’" Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly told reporters.
After his initial flurry of questions, Enright grew silent for several minutes before suddenly attacking the unsuspecting Sharif.
Just before Enright whipped out the knife from his multi-gadget Leatherman tool, he barked: "Al salaam aalaykum" – which means "Peace be upon you" in Arabic – Kelly said.
A Muslim taxi driver in New York City was stabbed last night in a hate crime the victim believes to have been motivated by the "Ground Zero mosque" debate, according to the New York Daily News. From the News:
Michael Enright, 21, of upstate New York, was charged with felony attempted murder as a hate crime – among other crimes – after the sick attack on Ahmed Sharif, 43, Tuesday night.
"I feel very sad," Sharif said, according to a statement released by the Taxi Workers Alliance. "I have been here more than 25 years. I have been driving a taxi more than 15 years. All four of my kids were born here."
Sharif, who was slashed in the throat, upper lip, arm and hand, said he believes the battle over the Ground Zero mosque has inflamed anti-Muslim sentiment in America.
"I never feel this hopeless and insecure before," the Queens man said in the statement. "Right now, the public sentiment is very serious (because of the Ground Zero mosque debate). All [taxi] drivers should be more careful."
Enright, of Brewster, was "very, very intoxicated" when he hailed Sharif’s yellow cab shortly after 6 p.m. Tuesday, a police source said.
Enright asked Sharif if he was Muslim and how long he’d been in the United States before slashing him, according to the Taxi Workers Alliance, and confirmed by NYPD. The News reports that cops sent Enright to Bellevue for psychiatric evaluation.