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NY has been the center of racial controversy over plans to build a Mosque at Ground Zero and physical and verbal attacks on Muslims are on the rise. Yesterday, a drunk student hopped in a cab in Midtown, asked the driver if he was Muslim and proceeded to slash his face.

Michael Enright, 21, of upstate Brewster, asked his victim if he was a Muslim and exchanged pleasantries in Arabic before going berserk and slashing the driver’s neck and face through the taxi’s partition, police said.

He has been charged with attempted murder as a hate crime for the attack, in which he allegedly shouted, “This is a checkpoint, motherf- – -ker! I have to put you down!”

Cabby Ahmed Sharif, a Bangladeshi immigrant, said anger over the proposed Park Place mosque may have played a role in the horrifying attack.

“I know many people are upset. I didn’t support the mosque at Ground Zero, either,” the Jamaica, Queens, resident said.

“I’ve lived in this country for 35 years. I’ve worked hard. This country has helped me a lot. But before yesterday, I never felt like I didn’t belong here.

“I feel very sad,” Sharif, 43, continued. “I have been driving a taxi more than 15 years. All my four kids were born here. I never feel this hopeless and insecure before.

“Right now, the public sentiment is very serious. All drivers should be more careful.”

As they headed uptown, the suspect began chatting with Sharif.

“As-salaam alaikum,” Enright said — an Arabic greeting that means, “Peace be upon you.”

“Wa-alaikum salaam,” Sharif replied, using the proper Arabic reply — “Peace be upon you, too.”

“Then, he asked me how my Ramadan was going,” said Sharif.



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