Times Columnist Suggests Attack on Muslim Cabbie Related to Mosque Critics

Metro writer Clyde Haberman's Friday column, "In the Latest Religious Battle, a Call to Arms for Mother Teresa," dealt with another New York City building controversy, this time a protest over the Empire State Building rejecting a request for special lighting in tribute to the 100th anniversary of the birth of Mother Teresa.

The building often bathes its upper reaches in colors, from green for St. Patrick's Day, to yellow to celebrate The Simpsons, and (ugh) red to mark the 60th anniversary of Communist China's dictatorship.

Haberman's subject was a rally on Thursday led by William Donohue, president of the Catholic League. After a crack at the presence of "noted theologian Jackie Mason," the veteran Jewish stand-up comedian, Haberman made an ill-informed lurch into the case of Michael Enright, accused of a hate crime in the stabbing of a Muslim cabdriver in New York City Tuesday night.

Left-wing attempts to link the stabbing to the outcry against plans to build a mosque at Ground Zero have foundered on the fact that Enright volunteered for Intersections International, which promotes interfaith understanding and strongly supports the building of the mosque near the site of the 9-11 terrorist attacks.

A Times story on Enright on Friday mentioned his volunteer work with II but did not point out the group supports the mosque, as demonstrated by this August 3 press release. Haberman didn't seem to have gotten the news either, irresponsibly throwing out the possibility (without actually standing behind it) that Enright was motivated by anti-mosque animus.

In this supposedly most tolerant of cities, we have been swept up win culture wars rooted in religion. The dispute over Mother Teresa is relatively small. Bearing far greater potential for lasting damage is the multisided anger over the proposed Muslim community center and mosque near the World Trade Center site, a struggle that may or may not have influenced a man charged on Wednesday with knifing a Muslim cab driver after having made anti-Muslim remarks.

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