NYC Cab Driver Allegedly Stabbed For Being Muslim

Are we at the point where random violence is being inflicted on Muslims because of their religion, right on our streets?  The protests against the Park51 project are horrifying enough, but an emerging story suggests that we may have sunk even lower.  According to the NYPD, a Manhattan cab driver was allegedly stabbed last night by a drunk passenger who asked him if he was a Muslim.

The full story, according to reports gathered by Talking Points Memo, is that the driver picked up the alleged assailant last night around 6 pm at the intersection of 24th Street and 2nd Avenue.  As the cab drove north, the suspect allegedly started asking Ahmed H. Sharif, the driver, where he was from, how long he had been in America, and whether he was observing fast during Ramadan. 

According to a statement released through the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, after being silent for a few moments, the passenger “suddenly started cursing and screaming.” There, at about 6:15pm at Third Avenue between 40th and 41st Streets, he yelled, “‘Assalamu Alaikum. Consider this a checkpoint,’ and then slashed Mr. Sharif across the neck.”

In the statement, Mr. Sharif said, “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.”

There was a piece on the Huffington Post‘s religion channel this morning, comparing the Park51 controversy to the Dreyfus Affair, a national conflict that took place in France in the late 19th century and revealed the country’s deep anti-Semitism.  When the only Jewish officer in the General Service, Alfred Dreyfus, was accused of treason on flimsy evidence, national sentiment erupted against him.  Religious studies professor David P. Gushee writes,

“Demagogic media leaders stoked the fears and prejudices of the French Christian (primarily Catholic) majority throughout the conflict…The French newspaper La Libre Parole and other voices began calling for a massacre of the Jews.”

The stabbing story is still evolving, and has already produced some unexpected information – the 21-year-old suspect in Mr. Sharif’s stabbing, has (according to TPM) been working with a multifaith, multicultural organization that strongly supports the Park51 Center.  Not exactly the likeliest candidate for a drunken stabbing.  All of this complicates the matter further and makes it difficult to draw any conclusions until more information is released.  But what is clear is that the possibility of violence in the controversy over the Park51 Center is becoming more real, and that we have a responsibility, as Gushee writes, “resolve our own budding Dreyfus case before it goes any further.”

Photo from Flickr.

97 comments

bob m.
bob m6 years ago

Another story from the "Naked City".
cabbies are vulnerable to all kinds of violence. most to do with theft of their $$.One alleged case of antipathy toward muslims and we have the crusades starting up in Gothom.
I would suggest that had the same issues been happening in Iran or some other muslim diaspora.
the streets would long ago have been filled with the blood of westerners and or mostly their own brothers and sisters.
People get stabbed in metropolis for any # of dark reasons.
How bout some balance here.

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Loretta K.
Loretta K6 years ago

Of course it was wrong to attack the cab driver for any reason.

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Cheryl W.
Cheryl W7 years ago

Linda H. - I did not indicate I was supporting anything. My very first statement indicated I did not condone such acts. My only point was that as long as tension is high & people feel the way they do over this mosque, more incidents like this may happen.

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Kris B.
Kris B7 years ago

On the outside looking in...there seems to be a lot of hate and fear being spread around in the US. I don't think people are thinking they are just reacting.
Maybe because it takes the focus off the real things that need to be done. We, the world, have many problems to be fixed and hate takes all the energy away.
Everyone (except the American Indians) came from somewhere else at one time. Don't use your energy on hate because it keeps you from the love of life.
I try each day to go all day without hate and negative feelings and what a rush when you can.

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Linda H.
Linda h7 years ago

Cheryl W. This was all started to promote and sell Pam Gellers book. Her friend Sarah Palin got involved and wrote a tweet about it with out knowing or caring what the Community Center was where it was how long it's been in the works and who down here supports it. Moving it will not change anything. There is an actual mosque nearby that has been there for decades and they will just go and stand in front of that one with their hate signs like Phelps "God hates Fags" does at the funerals. It gets attention and they make money. It's shamefull. it's legal. But you don't have to fall for it. Go to you tube and have a look at Pam Geller. Is that what you support?

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Cheryl W.
Cheryl W7 years ago

I would never condone a hate crime or mistreatment of anyone based on their race, religion, etc. People must understand the proposed building of the mosque near ground zero is an emotional, painful subject. If the intent is not malicious, given the pain this is causing, why not locate it in a more suitable place? I cannot disagree with the people who are upset over this. This is just one incident of many more to come if this moves forward.

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Janice P.
Janice P7 years ago

I agree with Marilyn L. Care 2 and some of its writers, in particular, are guilty of doing what it often accuses the far right of doing: sensationalizing the extremes. This is but one example of that.

I believe that much more is extant in this case, just as it is in the case of the fellow who wanted to bomb the Discovery Channel offices, than racial or religious hatred. There is a general feeling of fear and upset, as well as anger and desperation in this country. Its genesis does not lie solely in the aftermath of 9/11 or in the proposed Cordoba Center, although those two things are certainly components of it.

It is part and parcel of what the elected officials and their corporate owners have done to this nation and our economy within the last 30 years. When people do not know where there future lies - or if they even have one, they become desperate. Desperate people do desperate things. They also get drunk, take drugs, lose touch with sanity, and, as a result, often engage in behavior they otherwise might not have.

To take one or two instances of rational abandon and violence and sensationalize them to the point that they become fodder for public comment and they cause even more suspicion and hatred is irresponsible and unnecessary. Our nation simply cannot afford this kind of emotional goading and such escalation of divisiveness.

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Wendy L.
W L7 years ago

This is a sad commentary for the state of affairs of American Muslims living and working in NYC. I hope it ends soon.

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Julie van Niekerk

"Alledgedly" - maybe it was only another crime.

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Monica A.
Tara Aiello7 years ago

I think people should not be judged in terms of race, colour, gender, sexual preference, etc as everyone is equal, and deserves respect, and kindness. People should be treated as individuals based on how they are as people-referring to their actions, personalities, etc. This article made me feel quite upset, and sad because unfortunately society, and some people are heading in this terrible direction. My heart, and sympathy goes out to the cab driver, and I hope that he is alright. It is very scary to know that society, and some people commit these terrible acts of violence, and prejudice in an everyday situation, and in general-what a bad place the world has become-it's a shame, and it is unfortunate.

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