Mayor seeks to calm cabbie, NYC after knife attack A Muslim cab driver whose face and throat were slashed in a suspected hate crime attack appeared with Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Thursday as city officials sought to ease tensions in the debate over a plan to put a mosque near the site of the 2001 terrorist attacks. Meanwhile, investigators sought to unravel contradictions in the life of the suspect, a baby-faced college student who had traveled to Afghanistan with a group that seeks to promote interfaith understanding. The Bangladeshi driver, Ahmed H. Sharif, said the proposed mosque and Islamic center north of the World Trade Center site did not come up in his conversation with the passenger who allegedly used a folding knife to slash Sharif's neck and face after asking whether he was a Muslim. "Of course it was for my religion. He attacked me after he knew I was a Muslim," Sharif said at a news conference at City Hall. Bloomberg said it is impossible to know the motive of the attack. But he made a pointed connection to the debate about the planned Islamic center, which has ignited intense emotions worldwide. "This should never have happened and hopefully won't happen again," Bloomberg said. "Hopefully, people will understand that we can have a discourse. That's what the First Amendment is all about. That's what America is all about." ... The Anti-Defamation League said it had been tracking "an intensified level of anti-Muslim bigotry" in public forums over the past few months. It cited scores of incidents involving either harassment, hate speech or outright violence, including a pipe bomb explosion at an Islamic center in Jacksonville, Fla., in May and a July fire at an Islamic center in Mareitta, Ga. "The mood in the country, in general, is one of lack of civility and anger and rage," said ADL director Abraham Foxman. "When you raise the rhetoric on hate, there is always potential for violence." The ADL itself opposes the construction of an Islamic community center near ground zero at the World Trade Center site, saying the location would unnecessarily agitate some 9/11 victims and families and would be "counterproductive to the healing process." Yeah right, Bloomberg. Look around at the increase of hate crimes against Muslims, and guess about the motive.