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NYTimes: Man Is Held in Anti-Muslim Stabbing of Cabdriver

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MM’s Coverage of Park51 (Mislabeled “Ground Zero Mosque”)

A cabdriver was attacked Tuesday by a knife-wielding passenger who made anti-Muslim remarks, the police said.

The passenger, Michael Enright, 21, of Brewster, N.Y., hailed the cab at Second Avenue and East 24th Street around 6 p.m. Tuesday, the police said. Twenty blocks north, they said, he slashed and stabbed the 43-year-old driver in his throat, face and arm.

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The driver — identified by the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, a drivers’ group, as Ahmed H. Sharif, 43, a Bangladeshi immigrant — stopped the cab and approached a police officer on Third Avenue near 42nd Street. Mr. Enright was arrested at the scene.

According to the taxi workers’ alliance, Mr. Sharif’s fare started the ride asking him in a friendly way if he was Muslim, whether he was observing Ramadan, and how long he had been in the United States.

After falling silent for a few minutes, the passenger began cursing and screaming, and then yelled, “Assalamu alaikum — consider this a checkpoint!” and slashed Mr. Sharif across the neck, and then on the face from his nose to his upper lip, the alliance said. (“Assalamu alaikum” — “peace be with you” — is a traditional Muslim greeting.)

Both men were taken to Bellevue Hospital Center. The driver was in stable condition. A law enforcement official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing, said Mr. Enright was “very drunk” at the time of the attack.

“I feel very sad,” Mr. Sharif said in 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 my four kids were born here. I never feel this hopeless and insecure before.”

He added that “right now, the public sentiment is very serious” because oftensions over Park51, the proposed Islamic center that some critics call the “ground zero mosque.”

The police charged Mr. Enright with attempted murder as a hate crime, assault, aggravated harassment and criminal possession of a weapon. He was awaiting arraignment on Wednesday.

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Muslim American born in Brooklyn, NY with Guyanese parents currently living in Virginia working full-time as a web developer.

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