I knew it would happen; it was not a question of if but when: a New York City taxi driver, Ahmed Sharif, was recently slashed by a passenger because he is a Muslim. You would think that Sharif would be filled with anger, but yesterday on the steps of City Hall he professed love for his city, for his country, and a desire to just live in peace.
Twenty-five years ago Sharif came to the United States from Bangladesh. His dream, like so many who came before him, was to come to here for a better life. Lost in all the hubbub about the so-called Ground Zero mosque are the people like Sharif who want to live here because it is supposed to be the land of the free, the home of the brave. Isn't it strikingly obvious enough that people from Muslim countries want to come here, leaving places of oppression for a fresh start in our country? It is a story told again and again over the decades. The "golden door" noted on the base of the Statue of Liberty beckons people from all over the world to seek the dream of freedom.
Sharif was driving his taxi in the city on Tuesday night, working hard to support his wife and four children. All was well until a drunken passenger, Michael Enright, a 21-year-old student at the School of Visual Arts got into Sharif's cab and asked him if he was a Muslim. Enright then reached around the security partition and stabbed Sharif several times. Somehow Sharif was able to get out of the car, lock the perpetrator in the taxi, and get the police, who arrested Enright.
Mayor Bloomberg invited Sharif, his wife, and children to City Hall. Bloomberg gave the children gifts and used the opportunity to talk about Enright and his disgraceful actions. Bloomberg to his credit did not use the occasion to discuss the mosque controversy, but it inevitably came up as a reporter asked Sharif if he felt the attack was because of the mosque situation. Sharif, showing a dexterity for handling reporters that more politicians should have, said, "We didn't have a talk about the mosque." Here's the case of a man who should be angry, should be outraged, but he handled the question well instead of fanning the flames.