Stabbed Cabbie speaks
The taxi driver who was slashed by a drunken passenger after being asked if he was Muslim came out of a meeting with Mayor Bloomberg Thursday feeling encouraged.
"He offered his help and support to make sure I'm safe -- I feel a lot safer than before," Ahmed Sharif said on the steps of City Hall, flanked by a gaggle of supporters and a legion of media.
"Many thanks to everyone," he said. "After I was wounded, I was lying down in the hospital and from that time until now, the Taxi Alliance, with their help, and all my friends with their help -- it is unforgettable."
He added, "This still is very sad and shocked me, and sometimes I feel very lonely and unsafe [but] after I see the mayor and hear all his support and his words, I feel this city must be safe for everyone and we must have respect for all religions and each other."
Sharif, a Bangladeshi immigrant who has live in New York for 25 years, was attacked by passenger Michael Enright on Tuesday evening, police say, after Enright asked the driver if he was a Muslim.
Enright allegedly slashed Sharif in the throat, mouth and arms.
Asked if he believed he was specifically attacked because he is Muslim, Sharif responded, "Of course it was for my religion! He attacked me after he asked if I was Muslim."
Mayor Bloomberg, when asked if he thought the mosque controversy had anything to do with the attack, responded, "You never know what's related -- whether it's related or not it's disgraceful."
Bloomberg said it is impossible to know the motive of the attack, but he made a pointed connection to the debate about the planned Islamic center, which has ignited intense emotions worldwide.
"This should never have happened and hopefully won't happen again," Bloomberg said. "Hopefully, people will understand that we can have a discourse. That's what the First Amendment is all about. That's what America is all about."