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August 26, 2010

Muslim Stabbing Victim Makes Television Appearance

The Muslim taxi driver stabbed in an alleged hate crime in New York City joined Mayor Michael Bloomberg Thursday in condemning the attack. Police say a passenger stabbed Ahmed Sharif several times after asking him if he was Muslim.  The incident comes at a  time when New York is engulfed in a controversy over plans to build an Islamic cultural center near the site of the World Trade Center bombings in 2001. 

A simple question "Are you Muslim?"

The response allegedly led to the stabbing of a New York City taxi driver because he answered yes.  

On Thursday, cameras got a first glimpse of that Muslim taxi cab driver.  

Ahmed Sharif appeared with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

"No matter how wonderful this country is, no matter how wonderful this city is, there's always somebody who acts disgracefully," Bloomberg said.

Sharif had this to say:

"This is the city of all color, races, all religions.  Everyone, we live here side-by-side peacefully."



Police say Michael Enright, 21, attacked Sharif after learning he was Muslim. Tensions are high in New York City because of plans to build an Islamic cultural center near the site of the World Trade Center bombings.   Police have not tied the attack to the proposed Islamic center, but the New York Taxi Workers Alliance has - condemning what it calls "bigotry and anti-Islamic rhetoric."

"To us representing a workforce that is almost 50 percent Muslim, it is absolutely unacceptable to have an environment of fear mongering in New York City," said Bhairavi Desai of the New York Taxi Workers Allilance.

Enright is charged with attempted murder as a hate crime, along with other offenses.  He is a college student who told police he recently traveled to Afghanistan and has volunteered with an organization that promotes interfaith dialogues.

Counterterrorism analysts worry that the rhetoric surrounding the mosque may provoke extremists to violence.  

"Hopefully people can understand we can have a discourse.  That's what the first amendment [of the U.S. Constitution] is all about," Mayor Bloomberg said. "That's what America is all about.  But, violence and being disrespectful to each other is not part of why America was formed."