Despite attack, taxi driver still loves New York

August 27, 2010 9:10:12 AM PDT
The New York City cab driver stabbed by a passenger says he was definitely attacked because of his religion.

Ahmed Sharif spoke Thursday after he and his family met with Mayor Michael Bloomberg at City Hall.

Sharif was stabbed repeatedly while driving his taxi on the East Side Tuesday.

He says the suspect, 21-year-old Michael Enright, attacked him after first asking whether he was Muslim.

Despite the attack, Sharif told supporters outside City Hall that he still loves New York.

"This is a city of all colors, races, all religion, everyone," he said. "We live here, side by side, peacefully."

Sharif also said the controversial plan for a mosque near ground zero did not come up in the conversation with Enright before the stabbing.

Eyewitness News has also learned more about Enright, a documentary film student. He was moved from jail to a psychiatric ward, corrections officials said Friday.

NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly says officers found an empty bottle of scotch in Enright's backpack. They also found several journals, some written when Enright was embedded with troops in Afghanistan.

Sharif says Enright told him "This is a checkpoint" right before the stabbing. There is also word that Enright had at least one previous arrest for trespassing at an East Side apartment building last year.

Kelly said authorities see the attack as an isolated incident rather than evidence of a trend in anti-Muslim crimes.

Bloomberg said it is impossible to know the motive for the attack, but he made a pointed connection to the debate surrounding a planned Islamic center and mosque two blocks from the World Trade Center site, which has ignited intense emotions worldwide.

Earlier in the day, Governor David Paterson spoke out about the attack, saying it's just what the terrorists wanted when they attacked on 9/11.

"An incident like this, where a taxi driver almost lost his life should certainly compel us to remembering," Paterson said on WOR-AM Thursday morning. "This is what the terrorists really want. This is the terrorists getting a yield on their investment when they attacked this country and blew up the World Trade Center, that we're now fighting each other. This is making their day."

However, the governor also says the driver's religion may not have prompted the attack, saying such incidents often involve underlying mental health problems.

"Of course it was for my religion - he attacked me after he knew I was a Muslim," Sharif said.

On Wednesday, Sharif said that with all the tensions over the mosque near ground zero, other drivers should be very cautious.

INTERACTION: Is America becoming Islamaphobic?

In the spring, Enright, of Brewster, spent six weeks filming Marines in Afghanistan for his senior thesis at the School of Visual Arts.