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Student pleads guilty to stabbing Muslim cabbie in New York

By Jonathan Allen

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A film student pleaded guilty to attempted murder as a hate crime on Tuesday for stabbing a New York City taxi driver in what prosecutors said was an anti-Muslim attack.

Michael Enright, 24, faces 9-1/2 years in prison when he is sentenced later this month.

After hailing a taxi in Manhattan one evening in August 2010, Enright asked the driver, Ahmed Sharif, whether he was a Muslim, according to prosecutors.

When Sharif replied that he was, Enright slashed Sharif's throat with a knife, stabbed at his face, arms and hands and yelled anti-Muslim comments, prosecutors said.

Sharif survived the attack, and later he appeared with Mayor Michael Bloomberg at a news conference where he said he believed he was stabbed only because of his religion.

He was left with permanent scars on his face, neck and arm, prosecutors said.

"The victim, a native of Bangladesh and the father of four children, has been working and living in our diverse city for nearly three decades," Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said in a statement following Enright's hearing in state Supreme Court in Manhattan.

"There is no place for bigotry in New York City," he said.

Enright, from Brewster, New York, pleaded guilty to a charge of attempted murder as a hate crime and a charge of assault as a hate crime. He is due to be sentenced on June 25.

A defense attorney for Enright did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Earlier, Enright's defense had said he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder following a trip to Afghanistan.

(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Bob Burgdorfer)

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