When a Puerto Rican man happened past an anti-Muslim rally protesting the building of the Park51 Islamic community center in downtown Manhattan this weekend, he was mobbed and swarmed with hostile insults from protesters who mistakenly believed him to be Muslim. The confrontation looked like it narrowly avoided turning violent. Yesterday, in a more fatal incident, a Muslim New York City cab driver, Ahmed Sharif, was slashed with a knife across the face and neck after his passenger inquired after his religion.
Sharif, a 43-year-old father of four who has lived in America for two-and-a-half decades, commented, “I never feel this hopeless and insecure before.” He also believes that it is the anti-Muslim rhetoric surrounding the construction of the Islamic center that put his life in danger. “Right now, the public sentiment is very serious (because of the Park 51 debate). All drivers should be more careful.” Twenty-one-year-old Michael Enright, his attacker, faces serious charges, including attempted murder as a hate crime, for the attack which put his victim in the hospital. Ironically, Enright works for an interfaith group that supports the Park51 project. Guess he didn’t get the memo.
In other New York hate crime news, today over in Long Island, four teens who were a part of the hate attack that killed Ecuadorian immigrant Marcelo Lucero were sentenced. The teenage boys had targeted Lucero in a “game” called beaner-hopping, or beating up anybody they happened across who looked Mexican.