NYC cabbie slashed after assailant asked, "Are You Muslim?"-- suspect worked for web video company

(Image from the Flickr Stream of stabbing suspect and web video producer Michael S. Enright, who traveled to Afghanistan's Helmand province earlier this year on an internet video project involving U.S. Marines.)


Update, 9pm PT: New York Times article with new details here.

New details are emerging today on the horrible news of a cabbie in New York City stabbed by a man who hated Muslims. The victim: 43-year old Ahmed H. Sharif of Queens, who is a practicing Muslim. The man who assaulted him is said to have started out friendly, then screamed, "Assalamu Alaikum. Consider this a checkpoint," and slashed the cabbie across the neck and on his face from his lips to his nose. The suspected stabber has been charged with attempted murder as a hate crime, assault, aggravated harassment and criminal possession of a weapon. According to police reports, he was "very drunk" at the time of arrest.

Mr. Ahmed received stitches in his neck, and has been released from Bellevue Hospital in stable condition. What is most bizarre about the whole story, to me, is the background of the 21-year-old suspect. He is reported to be a film student at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, and his social media profiles state that he is an employee of Intersections International, a multifaith, multicultural peace group, though they have denied he was ever "an employee" (sounds like he was a volunteer). The project's website includes a statement of support for the Cordoba House project in lower Manhattan (smeared by detractors as the "Ground Zero Mosque"). Videos of Cordoba House/Park 51 backer Imam Feisel Abdul Rauf are posted on intersectionsinternational.org, and Enright's work history suggests that he may have been involved in producing them (though the organization's website does not currently list him as a staff member). From TPM:

The 21-year-old aspiring filmmaker had been to Afghanistan recently, working on a documentary on a high school buddy of his who enlisted in the Marines. His efforts to embed with his friend were the subject of a profile in the local paper.
Here is Enright's Flickr stream, and here is his Facebook profile. The New York Post adds this:
Enright told police he works for an Internet media company who had recently spent time with a combat unit in Afghanistan filming military exercises until this past May. He has been charged with attempted murder.
That "Internet Media Company" Enright worked for as a photographer and reporter would appear to be USVets.TV, a video project serving veterans and their families. This press release trumpets Michael Enright's involvement with "TV Worldwide Live NAB 2010 'Salute the Troops' Webcast Featuring USVets.TV Reporter Michael Enright Embedded With Marines in Afghanistan in Demo of Streaming Technology."

A graphic photo of the cabbie's injuries follows.

[ Image: a photo released by the New York Taxi Worker Alliance shows Ahmed H. Sharif at Bellevue Hospital in New York City, after he was slashed across the neck, face and shoulders. ]

Enright's Flickr profile reads:

I was raised in beautiful upstate New York, where there is no shortage of photogenic material. I am blessed to have been able to train my eye through its many seasonal changes, and apply those techniques I've learned to the many subjects I've had the privilege of shooting.
Salon has much more, including videos shot and produced by the alleged cabbie-stabber. And the local paper in Enright's home town has published this.

In a statement released by the New York City taxi workers' alliance, the stabbing victim today said:

I feel very sad. 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. Right now, the public sentiment is very serious (because of the Ground Zero Mosque debate.) All drivers should be more careful.
In related news, anti-Islam ads will be removed from Chicago taxis, according to this local news report.

[via Sepia Mutiny, and via BB Submitterator, thanks pbump]


(Image: Mr. Enright [L] with a friend in the Marines, in Afghanistan's Helmand Province earlier this year, from Enright's Flickr stream. Enright is holding his video camcorder, and the Marine he is with is holding a weapon.)