NY Muslim attack: US man charged

2010-08-31 10:38

New York - An arts student accused of slashing a Muslim taxi driver's neck has been indicted on hate-crime charges, prosecutors said on Monday.

This comes as the student's lawyer lashed out at media interest in a case that comes amid debate over attitudes about Muslims and a plan to build an Islamic cultural centre near Ground Zero.

Michael Enright, the 21-year-old accused of telling the driver to "consider this a checkpoint" before allegedly stabbing him last week, waived his right to be in court as his indictment was announced on Monday.

He was being held without bail in a psychiatric ward until an arraignment next month on charges of attempted murder and assault, both as hate crimes.

Anti-Muslim bias

Authorities said Enright, who travelled to Afghanistan last spring with a group to promote interfaith understanding, uttered an Arabic greeting before making his "checkpoint" remark and attacking the driver, Ahmed Sharif, with a folding knife on August 24. Police have said Enright was drunk.

Sharif, who is from Bangladesh, was wounded in the face and neck but survived. He has said he has no doubt the attack was fuelled by anti-Muslim bias.

The allegations have mystified some who know Enright, a senior at the School of Visual Arts who lives with his parents in suburban Brewster, New York.

He had volunteered with an interfaith group that helped his trip to Afghanistan as part of a video project for his school. As part of the work, Enright spent time embedded with US troops.

When arrested, Enright was carrying two notebooks that described his experiences in Afghanistan, along with an empty bottle of scotch, police have said.

Journalists' actions

Enright's lawyer, Lawrence Fisher, declined to comment on the charges.

But he lambasted unspecified reporters for attempting to visit Enright in custody and raised the "heinous and egregious" prospect that journalists might have peeked into a prior Enright lawyer's file when it was inadvertently left for a time on a courthouse bench last week.

Enright has refused to speak with reporters, and Fisher said he might ask a judge to bar media representatives from trying to visit the student.

"I don't think that is really an acceptable practice," he said. A judge noted his remarks but took no action.

Fisher declined to be more specific about the basis for his concerns about the file, and Enright's prior attorney didn't immediately return a phone call on Monday evening.

Opposing views on Islamic centre

Enright's arrest came amid an emotional, worldwide discussion of the planned Islamic centre and prayer room two blocks from the World Trade Centre site.

Supporters see the Islamic centre as a monument to religious freedom; opponents call it an affront to the memory of the nearly 2 800 people killed by Muslim extremists in the 2001 terrorist attacks.

Muslims have been worshipping at the Islamic centre site since last year, but it got new attention recently after developers sought to move ahead on an expansion that would include a community centre.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who supports the proposal, has linked the furore over the mosque proposal to the cab driver's stabbing.

"This should never have happened and hopefully won't happen again," Bloomberg said at a news conference with Sharif last week. "Hopefully, people will understand that we can have a discourse."

If convicted, Enright could face up to 25 years in prison.

  • US_Supporter - 2010-08-31 11:15

    There is no way that anyone can aprove of what this guy had done, but look at the reality of the facts. The attempt to build a Mosque at or near ground zero will be a super defeat for the US and a major win for the Islamic religion. Let us not forget that the US is a Christian land with all sorts of other mad religions being practiced there, however, the ground claimed in the name other than Jesus will thus be a huge spiritual loss for the Christian faith.

    The only thing left to do is to pray, contess the building of the Mosque and be one up, build the biggest Christian church ever!

  • Juan - 2010-08-31 11:31

    ...but it is ok for the US government to torture muslims every day?

  • Me - 2010-08-31 12:38

    Nothing wrong, he was just acting like they do.

  • Enlightened - 2010-08-31 13:19

    US_Supporter...this has nothing to do with Christianty, please leave that out of the discussion (anyways, the US is NOT a Christian land, ask the Native Americans what religion they practiced before the arrival of the settlers). The building of a mosque shouldn't be an issue, as would the building of any house of prayer for any group of people. From the viewpoints shown by the American public, it seems that the general level of common sense amongst them is quite low. A post of what I read from a guy's blog encouraging discussion about the mosque being built went along the lines of, " can't build a mosque there. They killed all those people, and now you want more of them there? They have so many gods in any case..." The guy doesn't even know what Islam is...'nuff said

  • Not ME - 2010-08-31 13:31

    Me - you must be talking about the US soldiers killing people indiscriminately in places like IRAQ or the mass murders committed in Vietnam. Having said that it does not make the guys who crashed into the twin towers muslims simply because they came from so called muslim countries and had muslim names. If my memory serves me correct some of them were drinking in a bar the night before those heinous crimes and that disqualifies them to be called muslims.They acted like typical americans when drunk...just like this dude who stabbed an innocent taxi driver !

  • Must be punished ! - 2010-08-31 13:46

    Disgusting ! And how stupid are the people opposing the extension of a mosque near ground zero ? 9/11 had NOTHING to do with Islam / Muslims. It was apparently done by some "extremists" - that's like blaming all the Jews / all the Americans for the killing of all those little children & elderly in Palestine each day !

  • james usa - 2010-08-31 13:50

    The kid was drunk.

  • Pieter - 2010-08-31 14:03

    @ US_Supporter: be scared, be very scared!

  • Sam - 2010-08-31 14:05

    For the love of GOD leave the muslims alone, Why are you guys so jealous of this pure and clean religion. Get a life,

  • Don - 2010-08-31 14:30

    It is a well-known fact that the fastest growing religion in the world is Islam. There's no stopping it, so just accept it. One must understand why this is though, but in order to do that, one needs to learn about the religion itself. Otherwise, whatever shallow things you say, will just be through blind, emotional ignorance. Religious freedom is a basic human right, and if the rotten apples within society disappear, then there'll be harmony amongst all faiths. It is not the religion that is bad, but the few people who interpret it incorrectly. One could use the analogy of the Klu-Klux Klan, who were supposed Christians. But we cannot say that Christianity is to blame, now can we?

  • @Sam - 2010-08-31 15:26

    No religion is pure & clean.

  • DontForget - 2010-08-31 21:22

    many many muslims died in those twin towers..wonder why the press doesnt mention that fact..besides the fact those buildings were fire has every brought down a steel structured building in the history of mankind..until 911..3 steel structured buildings fell on one day..amazing..sheeple...too much CNN and Fox bad for your mind.

  • New world - 2010-09-02 17:32

    Wake-up.... Ground Zero has nothing to do with Muslims.... 2 aircraft hit 2 buildings but 7 buildings were destroyed.....or rather PULLED.... demolition terms means to bring down systematically....
    Think carefully people of what's happening around us........

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