Don't split this cab

NEW YORK - AUGUST 26: Ahmed Sharif (R), 43, a taxi driver originally from Bangladesh, recounts an attack on him earlier this week that was instigated by his religious faith during a news conference outside of City Hall on August 26, 2010 in New York City. Sharif, a Muslim originally from Bangladesh, was attacked with a knife while driving his cab by a man who denounced his religion. Michael Enright, a 21-year-old film student at the School of Visual Arts who had recently returned from a trip to Afghanistan, questioned Sharif about Islam before attacking him in the cab. Sharif suffered cuts to his neck and body. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Imagine if this had been an episode of "Taxicab Confessions." A young man hops into a cab and begins asking his driver where he's from and whether he is Muslim. After a little small talk over Ramadan -- it's that time -- the fare starts making odd references to a "checkpoint," then pulls a knife and slashes and stabs the cab driver.

By now, you've no doubt heard about the attempted murder and hate crime allegedly committed by Michael Enright. What I only learned yesterday though when reading this New York Times article is Enright's own religious beliefs:

Mr. Enright is also a volunteer with Intersections International, an initiative of the Collegiate Churches of New York that promotes justice and faith across religions and cultures. The organization, which covered part of Mr. Enright's travel expenses to Afghanistan, has been a staunch supporter of the Islamic center near ground zero. Mr. Enright volunteered with the group's veteran-civilian dialogue project.

Joseph Ward III, the director of communications for Intersections, said that if Mr. Enright had been involved in a hate crime, it ran "counter to everything Intersections stands for" and was shocking.

This is a surprising revelation. And I hate to say that. But the narrative out there has been that it's those wacky right-wingers who hate Islam and do crazy things to show it. Here, though, we have allegations against a guy who doesn't really sound like a liberal but was affiliated with a liberal Christian organization.

Oddly, a search Google search using these limits -- enright liberal christian -- returns nothing from the MSM except a few comments at Salon and Politico. Interesting.

But neither does N.R. Kleinfield use the term "liberal" in this NYT story, so maybe this angle has gotten some attention that I've missed.

Also of note, this story included an eloquent quote from my favorite Jewish conservative politician, New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg:

"This attack runs counter to everything that New Yorkers believe, no matter what God we may pray to."

But this had been preceded by a quote, also from a prepared statement, from the national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Nihad Awad, that seemed totally out of line:

"As other American minorities have experienced, hate speech often leads to hate crimes. Sadly, we've seen how the deliberate public vilification of Islam can lead some individuals to violence against innocent people."

It seems a lot of people want to tie every event involving Muslims these days to sentiments towards the Near Ground Zero Mosque. I went over this the other day in the post about the end of Ramadan. But there is no -- absolutely ZERO -- support for the proposition that Enright's alleged attack was motivated, or even psychologically encouraged, by opposition to the lower Manhattan Islamic center.

Awad's comment is straight spin and it deserved at least some exploration.

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