New York: A Muslim cab driver was stabbed several times by a New York man after being asked "are you Muslim”, according to New York City cops, who arrested 21-year-old Michael Enright on Tuesday.
Ahmed H Sharif of Queens was stabbed several times by Michael Enright, after Enright had asked Sharif if he was Muslim and the cabbie responded that he was, a police spokesman said.
The attack comes at a time when the majority of Americans are opposing the building of a proposed Islamic Centre near the World Trade Centre.
Enright has been charged with attempted second-degree murder as a hate crime and is awaiting arraignment.
Sharif issued a statement yesterday warning his fellow cabbies about the tense environment in the city.
"Right now the public sentiment is very serious" he said, as quoted by USA Today.
All drivers should be more careful.
Sharif received stab wounds to his arms, throat and face.
"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 said.
Enright was drunk when he stepped into the cab, according to police officials.
A student of the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, he recently returned from Afghanistan where he was making a film on the US Marines.
Some of Enright`s friends said that he had a problem with alcohol and was prone to bizarre behaviour.
"I have no idea about his current condition but I have been following the story all day. What I can say about Mike is that he is without question a troubled person with a bad, bad drinking problem," said one of his classmates according to TalkingPointsMemo.
"He was my best friend`s roommate in freshman year and would drink till he blacked out every single night," he said.
"I remember on election night 2008 we were all downstairs outside of the dorm screaming and celebrating at Obama`s victory and Mike came outside with tears streaming down his face".
Another friend said that he had past problem with alcohol but was recovering.
"I`m not sure when he picked up drinking again. I saw him after he had gotten back from Afghanistan from filming his doc, he was happy to be back and had fond memories of the Afghan children," the second classmate said.
Enright`s conversation with Sharif started out friendly, with Enright asking the cabbie where he was from, how long he had been in America, if he was Muslim and if he was observing Ramadan, according to the statement from the Taxi Workers Alliance, as reported by USA Today.
He then shouted `Assalamu Alaikum`, before pulling out the knife and slashing Sharif across the neck and stabbing several more times as Sharif tried to knock it out of Enright`s hands, the alliance said.