Update at bottom: Global initiative claims suspect never worked for them, but they need to confirm whether a volunteer with same name is the same individual
The Village Voice believes this might be the "first 'ground zero mosque' hate crime."
"Police say a suburban New York man hailed a taxi in the city, asked the driver if he was Muslim and then stabbed him when the driver said yes," the Associated Press reports.
Police arrested Michael Enright on Tuesday night on charges including attempted murder as a hate crime. He was expected to appear in court in Manhattan later Wednesday.
Police say the 21-year-old suspect from Brewster, N.Y., was drunk when he hailed the cab on Manhattan's East Side.
TPMMuckraker notes that the New York Taxi Workers Alliance released the following press release:
Ahmed H. Sharif, 43, a yellow taxi cab driver slashed across the neck, face and shoulders by a passenger during an anti-Muslim hate crime will stand with fellow New York Taxi Workers Alliance members, and community, immigrant and Muslim organizations to call for an end to the bigotry and anti-Islamic rhetoric in the debate around the Park 51 Islamic Cultural Center, referred to as the Ground Zero Mosque. "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," said Mr. Sharif. "Right now, the public sentiment is very serious (because of the Ground Zero Mosque debate.) All drivers should be more careful."
On Tuesday, August 24th, 2010 Mr. Sharif picked up the perpetrator at 24th Street and Second Avenue, his first fare for the shift, and headed toward Times Square. The man, 21, started out friendly, asking Mr. Sharif about where he was from, how long he had been in America, if he was Muslim and if he was observing fast during Ramadan. He then first became silent for a few minutes and then 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. As Mr. Sharif went to knock the knife out, the perpetrator, continuing to scream loudly, cut the taxi driver in the face (from nose to upper lip), arm and hand.
"While a minority of has-been politicians spew ignorance and fear, it's the working person on the street who has to face the consequences," said NYTWA Executive Director Bhairavi Desai. "This kind of bigotry only breeds more violence and makes taxi drivers all the more vulnerable on the streets where there are no bully pulpits or podiums to hide behind." The US Department of Labor reports taxi drivers to be thirty times more likely to be killed on the job than other workers.
The 13,000-member NYTWA called on the District Attorney to be vigilant in its prosecution of the attempted murder and hate crime and urged the Governor to sign the Taxi Driver Protection Act, passed by the state legislature on June 26th, 2010, increasing penalties on crimes against taxi drivers and requiring a sign in all taxis, "WARNING: Assaulting a Taxi Driver is Punishable by Up to Twenty-Five Years in Prison." "Maybe if the warning sign was there, this kind of stranger who comes to us with hatred would have to think twice," said Anwar Hossain. "At least we could feel safer and not alone. No matter what political issue is going on, at least we could be treated as equal Americans and feel protected."
Here's where it gets strange: Michael Enright of Brewster, New York, who was booked on charges of attempted murder and assault with a weapon as a hate crime, is listed on Facebook as an employee of the New York City-based Intersections International, a New York-based "global initiative dedicated to promoting justice, reconciliation and peace across lines of faith, culture, ideology, race, class, national borders and other boundaries that divide humanity." And a few weeks ago, they announced their support for -- you guessed it -- the Cordoba House, better known to many as the "Ground Zero Mosque."
The about us page for Intersections International notes, that among other issues, the organization works to "eradicate ignorance regarding Islam."
Intersections International is a New York-based global initiative dedicated to promoting justice, reconciliation and peace across lines of faith, culture, ideology, race, class, national borders and other boundaries that divide humanity. Founded in 2007, Intersections is a permanent multi-faith, multi-cultural effort of the Collegiate Churches of New York, the oldest corporation in North America, dating back to 1628.
Using arts immersion, social marketing, intentional dialogue and other innovative methods, Intersections' work includes projects that promote pluralism in emerging democracies, eradicate ignorance regarding Islam, nurture global peacemakers, dismantle systemic discrimination against the LGBT community and initiate conversation among disparate groups to develop new ways of problem solving for some of society's most intractable issues. Intersections' work lies in three programmatic areas: amplifying marginalized voices, interfaith dialogue and cooperation and addressing the consequences of conflict.
Kamer adds, "Enright's Facebook picture shows him wearing what appears to be a flack jacket in another country, for what it's worth, but that's not too telling of anything. We called up Intersections International to ask them if they employed a Michael Enright, and the operator who picked up the phone told us he was a "freelancer" and connected us with a press representative, whose voicemail we got. Either there are two Michael Enrights from Brewster, New York who are 21 years-old and living in New York City -- entirely possible -- or there's one, and he's working for an initiative who recently released a statement of support for Park 51/The Cordoba House, and he just stabbed a cab driver explicitly because he told Enright he's a Muslim."
A video on YouTube shows Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf giving charge to Rev. Robert Chase, Director of Intersections International just two days ago to "confirm common ground."
The New York Post reports, "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."
Enright has had run-ins with the law in the past.
He was charged with criminal trespassing and disorderly conduct last year and sentenced to a day in jail.
In 2008, he received two summonses for underage drinking.
One video filmed and edited by Enright for Intersections International deals with "veteran - civilian dialogue."
The Veteran - Civilian Dialogue is a comprehensive and replicable program that works to empower veterans to fully re-integrate into civilian society and educate civilians to the unique needs and strengths of returning military personnel. These conversations explore the ways that war impacts us all, veterans and civilians alike."
Enright has also shot videos dealing with Iraq veterans trying to cope with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: YouTube link.
According to a linked Facebook page, Enright is involved with a Salute The Troops Project, along with the girlfriend of a US soldier killed in Iraq.
A Documentary-based project, reaching out to all effected by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"Salute the Troops" is a documentary in process, being filmed and directed by Kim Dudine and Michael Enright. (*Michael is currently in his third year at the School of Visual Arts majoring in film and video.)
The film will consist of anyone who has been affected, touched, or moved by our troops who have served, or are currently serving our great nation in time of war.
The Documentary will be a compilation of personal interviews, shout-outs, and or messages to loved ones currently deployed, or who have been deployed. Dedications to fallen heroes will be greatly honored and respectively included if it is within your interest to do so.
Please leave your:
NAME, AGE, PREFERRED CONTACT INFO, &
BEST TIMES TO REACH YOU.
Messages to our troops can include anything from a simple "Thank-you," personal stories of relation to the war, shout-outs and or anything enouraging, supportive, admiring, or appreciative to incorporate.
Remind our troops that they are not forgotten back home.
We are hoping to receive a *serious and dedicated outpour of appreciation and admiration for our troops; with the *ultimate aspired goal of sending the project to deployed units in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In loving memory of my beloved boyfriend, PFC Christopher "Warren" Lotter, we hope to send the first showing of the documentary to Tikrit, Iraq.
A cache of a blog removed from the Internet for unknown reasons called "Someone Worth Stalking on my Facebook- Michael Enright" has more details on his project.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I hate this war, but I still support our troopsÃ¢â‚¬Â
This sentence is constantly thrown around like dice on a craps table, and for most people who say it, they donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t really mean it to the fullest extent. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m guilty of it and so are most of you. With that in mind, I can only think of one person who isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t serving for our country who can say that he supports our troops and mean it beyond the shadow of a doubt.
Meet Michael Enright. A young man who attended the School of Visual arts in New York City, and is just now returning from filming hostile regions in Afghanistan with a group of marines.
While IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m writing this based on stalking MichaelÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Facebook page, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m certain that this project isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t like Ã¢â‚¬â„¢The Hurt LockerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ where everything is portrayed by a screenplay writers experiences after going to Iraq. All footage was shot by Mr. Enright himself in Afghanistan. And IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m assuming that he will be doing most, if not, all of the editing himself.
Michael, youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re an inspiration to showcasing much needed, REAL support for our troops, and I canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t wait to see the finished product.
A Hudson Valley, New York paper adds, "Enright is a 2007 graduate of Brewster High School who was profiled in The Journal News earlier this year while attending the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan.
The story focused on Enright's attempts to get embedded in Afghanistan with a Marine Corps Company of which his high school friend, Cpl. Alex Eckner, was a member, in order to make a documentary.
A credit for the photo atop this article posted at www.lohud.com notes, "This photo shows Michael Enright of Southeast filming Marines during pre-deployment training at Kaneohe Marine Corps Base in Hawaii in October, 2009."
At TPMMuckraker, Ryan J. Reilly observes, "The man accused of stabbing a Muslim NYC cab driver hardly has the background one might expect from someone charged with a hate crime committed in a drunken rage."
A former high school classmate of Enright's, speaking to TPMMuckraker on background, expressed shock about the crime and spent the morning eliminating electronic footprints that connected the two. "It's just disgusting, sad, horrific," he said, adding that, like the group Enright was working with, he supports the Cordoba Project.
However, Reilly doesn't mention the alleged underage drinking incidents.
Global initiative claims suspect never worked for them
Politico's Ben Smith reports, "The head of the group for which Enright volunteers, Intersections International, also just released a statement on the incident."
The alleged perpetrator is not an employee and has never been an employee of Intersections. There is a person who fits the description of the alleged perpetrator who has worked with us as a volunteer, but until we get further confirmation of the details in this incident, we cannot comment.
Our hearts go out to the cab driver, his family and any person who has dealt with such unacceptable violence.
Intersections is on record, explicitly and consistently, as promoting interfaith dialogue and cross-cultural cooperation, specifically with our Muslim brothers and sisters. We deplore violence and any act that may be categorized as a hate crime. ... Sara Reef
Smith adds, "A spokeswoman, Sara Reef, said the group isn't sure it's the same person, but if it is, that they'd had no warning signs from Enright, who had volunteered for a year at the group.
"He never said anything negative," she said.
Michael Enright was arraigned this afternoon in Manhattan criminal court, but entered no plea for the three charges: attempted murder in the second degree as a hate crime, assault in the first degree as a hate crime and criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree.
The judge ordered him held without bond. His next court date is Monday, Aug. 30.
According to a spokesman for the Manhattan district attorney, Enright's defense mentioned his volunteer work, his documentary work and his attendance at the School of Visual Arts.
That would appear to confirm that Enright is the same Enright who volunteers for Intersections International, a group whose mission is to promote peace and understanding between religions and cultures.