The Justice Department is investigating whether to charge Michael Enright, the film student accused of stabbing a cab driver in a racially-motivated attack last month, with a federal hate crime. Enright has already been indicted on charges of second-degree attempted murder and first-degree assault as hate crimes under NY state law for stabbing cab driver Ahmed Sharif.
Enright, who was allegedly very drunk the night he attacked Sharif, asked the cab driver if he was a Muslim before cutting him across the throat, shoulders, arm, hands and lip with a Leatherman knife. Enright is currently being held at Bellevue Hospital's psychiatric ward. The investigation is one of the first pursued under the Matthew Shepard Act. "Violence against individuals or institutions based on religious bias is intolerable, and the department will bring anyone who commits such crimes to justice," said DOJ spokesman Matthew Miller.
With a backdrop of recent furor over the Park 51 mosque and community center project, the DOJ is looking into several other anti-Muslim attacks involving mosques and mosque construction. Those include a report of arson at the site of a new mosque in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, fire and graffiti at the Dar El-Eman Islamic Center in Arlington, Texas, and a window-smashing at the Islamic Center in Madera, California. DOJ is also investigating the arrest of five teenagers in Waterport, NY, who are accused of sideswiping the son of one of the founders of a local mosque, and firing a gun outside the mosque.