It was a Tuesday evening in August 2010 when a 21-year-old art student from suburban New York hailed a taxi cab on a Manhattan street, carrying a couple of notebooks, an empty bottle of scotch and a folding knife. After asking the cabbie if he was a Muslim, the student, Michael Enright, muttered “consider this a checkpoint” before slashing at the driver’s neck and eventually fleeing through the car window.
The driver, Ahmed H. Sharif, survived with relatively minor injuries. Enright, who had actually visited Afghanistan earlier that year as part of a group aiming to promote interfaith dialogue, was arrested and charged with a hate crime.
The attack may well have been the most acute example of anti-Islamic sentiment last summer, but it was hardly the only one. For months, a debate raged over the plan to build an Islamic center within several blocks of the World Trade Center site – with critics weighing in from around the country, including some family members of 9/11 victims. In Florida, the Rev. Terry Jones threatened to burn a Quran if the proposed site wasn’t moved. (Efforts to block the center’s approval failed and Jones, though he backed away from his initial threat, went through with a Quran-burning in March after finding the Muslim holy book guilty of crimes against humanity in a televised “trial.”)