'Are You Muslim?' Question Leads to Cabbie Stabbing, Hate Crime Charge

When driver answered 'yes,' passenger pulled knife, say New York City police.

ByAaron Katersky, Mark Crudele and Richard Esposito
August 25, 2010, 2:11 PM

Aug. 25, 2010 — -- A New York City cab driver was attacked Tuesday evening just after 6 p.m. by a passenger who asked him if he was Muslim, says the NYPD. A spokesman for a New York City cabbie group blamed the attack on the proposed construction of an Islamic center near Ground Zero, the site of the 9/11 World Trade Center terrorist attack, but police said they were not aware of any link.

According to police, passenger Michael Enright, a 21-year-old from Brewster, New York, hailed a taxi at 24th Street and Second Avenue in Manhattan driven by Ahmed Sharif, a resident of Queens.

As the cab headed north on Third Avenue, Enright allegedly asked Sharif, who is of South Asian origin, "Are you Muslim?" When Sharif confirmed that he was Muslim, police say, Enright stabbed him multiple times with a Leatherman knife.

According to a statement from the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, which represents drives, Enright allegedly screamed "Assalamu Alaikum," a common Islamic greeting meaning "Peace be upon you," before slashing Sharif across the face, neck and shoulders. Sharif also sustained defensive wounds to the arm and hand.

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