Muslim-American leaders fear Islamophobia may lead to hate crimes

     In the midst of the ongoing controversy over the proposed 'Ground Zero mosque' and the attempted murder of a Muslim taxi driver, Muslim-American leaders have expressed their concern saying they fear 'Islamophobia' or 'anti-Muslim hysteria' could lead to violence and hate crimes in the country. "We've had a perfect storm for Islamophobia," The Christian Science Monitor quoted Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Washington, as saying. "I have been working on behalf of other Muslims for more than 30 years and I have never see it like this, not even after the 9/11 attacks. Hate rhetoric often leads to hate crimes, and I think that's what we're seeing now," he added. Erica Payne, the founder of a New York non-profit 'Agenda Project', has blamed the politicians of both parties for not taking a strong stand against what she called an increase in hate speech directed at Muslims. "It's happened very quickly, a lot of matches have been lit all at once. Those who should have held the fire extinguisher have abdicated. If they don't take hold of themselves, this will be the very beginning of a long line of these kinds of incidents," Payne further said. On Wednesday, 21-year-old Michael Enright got into a cab driven by Ahmed Sharif, a 44-year old Bangladeshi immigrant, pulled a knife and slashed him multiple times during the evening rush hour after inquiring if he was a Muslim. New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly has claimed that ten hate crimes against Muslims have been reported so far this year.

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