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Militant Islam Monitor > Articles > Jihad in New Jersey: Coptic Christian family slain and mutilated :'Islamic Hate' cited as motive

Jihad in New Jersey: Coptic Christian family slain and mutilated :'Islamic Hate' cited as motive

Cousin of murdered family was working with prosecution in Lynn Stewart -Abdel Rahman case
January 18, 2005

Father received death threats after religous arguments on Muslim website - Coptic community a calls it 'terrorist attack'
January 16, 2005

Photo -The Armanious family :Hossam, Amal, Slyvia (16) and Monica (8)

MIM: Van Gogh murder times four ?

A Coptic Christian's man's heated exchanges with Muslims in an internet chat room could be the motive behind what could be the first ritual murder by Muslims of a Christian family in the United States . The FBI investigation into the crime indicates that terrorism is considered to be a possible motive.

Investigators also cited the fact that a cousin of the slain family was working with the prosecution in the Lynne Stewart case . Stewart was one of the lawyers for Omar Abdel Rahman, aka 'The Blind Sheik' who was jailed for helping to orchestrate the WTC bombing in 1993. Stewart and an interpreter, and the Egyptian born Abdel Satter, a postman from Staten Island, were accused of smuggling out 'fatwas' written by Abdel Rahman to his followers in the Armed Islamic Group. Some of the fatwas resulted in an attacks in Egypt and one in which 16 Greek tourists were killed when followers of Rahman sprayed their bus was sprayed with machine fire in front of their hotel.

This newspaper report describes their activities:

Sept.14, 2004

"A blind terrorist sheik was able to issue an order to his militant Islamic followers from prison — calling for the "killing of Jews" everywhere just a year before the Sept. 11 attacks — thanks to help from a Staten Island postal worker, Manhattan jurors were told.

Sattar is on trial in Manhattan federal court for participating in terrorist activity. Two other defendants, Abdel-Rahman's radical lawyer, Lynne Stewart, and his interpreter, Mohammed Yousry, are also charged with aiding and abetting terrorist activity by helping smuggle the sheik's messages out of prison. Federal prosecutors said Sattar delivered the sheik's messages directly to terror supporters in Afghanistan and London, and through Arabic and Mideast Web sites, according to the wiretaps.

Sattar, with a copy of the sheik's fatwa in his hand, excitedly tells Yassir Al-Sirri based in London during an Oct. 4, 2000, phone call, "Do you want to listen to it?" Al-Sirri answers yes.

Sattar reads the fatwa: "A statement to the nation, the old and the young . . . calling on the Islamic nation to mandate the killing of Jews wherever they are." The sheik's edict said it is the "duty of every capable Muslim to wage the jihad against them . . . until the Jews are driven to their graves . . . either killing them as individuals or by targeting their interests and their advocates, as much as they can, adding, "assassinate them."


The ritual murder of Ariel Sellouk, a Jewish Houston Community College student whose throat was slit by an Arab 'friend' who had become 'religous' was not regarded as a hate crime, or officially acknowledged as religously motivated. The killer, who was the son of wealthy Saudi diplomats, was sentenced to 60 years in jail. http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/353

MIM: At the funeral for the Armanious family the spokesman of the Islamic Center of New Jersey, Ahmed Shede(e)d, reassured the public that :

"We are not a bloody people," said Ahmed Shedeed, director of the Islamic Center of Jersey City. "This is not from the Quran. This is not from Islam at all." http://www.jihadwatch.org/archives/2005/01/004666print.html



Jihad in New Jersey

By Judson Cox

Monday 17th of January 2005 09:17 AM MST

Yesterday, Hossam Armanious, his wife Amal Garas and their daughters, Monica (8) and Sylvia (15) were found murdered in their New Jersey home. The reason this family was so brutally murdered appears to be that they were outspoken critics of Islam. The family was bound and tortured, before their throats were slit in accord with the instructions for executing nonbelievers, as detailed in the Koran: (47:4) "Therefore, when ye meet the Unbelievers, smite at their necks; At length, when ye have thoroughly subdued them, bind a bond firmly [on them]."

They were Coptic Christians, an Egyptian sect of Christianity especially hated by Muslims for their refusal to convert to Islam. Hossam Armanious had received death threats from Muslims. According to a family friend, one of the threats read, "You'd better stop this bull, or we are going to track you down like a chicken and kill you." Sylvia was especially brutalized, apparently due to the tattoo of a Coptic cross on her wrist. The girl's throat was not only slit, but she was stabbed repeatedly in the chest and wrist where she bore the sign of her faith.

It remains to be seen how our news media will deal with this horrific slaying. Will this brutal and sensational crime receive as much coverage as the Laci Peterson murder? Will this terrorist attack be treated with the same awe and fascination as the Kobe Bryant case? Will we have 24/7 legal analysis, breaking news, interviews, investigations, magazine racks filled with pictures of the slain, an absolute media frenzy? Or, will this gruesome event be glossed over, whitewashed and quickly forgotten for reasons of political correctness?

When followers of "the religion of peace" hacked off Nick Berg's head, it received nowhere near the coverage as the Kobe Bryant case. Social commentators and news analysts argued that the story must be played down to prevent stirring up hatred toward the Muslim community. Considering that only one act of violence against a Middle Easterner (mistaken for a Muslim) was performed in retribution for the outrageous murder of over three thousand Americans in the 9/11 attacks, I don't think that outcome very likely. I think it far more likely that the suppression of coverage was due to fear of offending the Muslim community.

Well, I'm offended by the Muslim community that refuses to condemn such acts of violence. I'm offended by the Muslim community that tolerates the teaching of religious violence, anti-Semitism, anti-Christian bigotry and anti-Americanism in its religious schools. More than that, I am offended by the liberals in our culture who refuse to recognize this violent cancer in our midst that is literally killing us one person, one family and 3,000 persons at a time. I am offended by those who refuse to recognize evil, and demand tolerance from everyone but those who cut off people's heads and fly planes into buildings. I am offended by those who blame the victims and celebrate the predators out of their own cowardice.

If, as it appears, this family was killed by Islamic terrorists in New Jersey, it must serve as an ear-splitting wake up call. Every American must be warned and reminded that the terrorists hide among us. The likes of Michael Moore, who claim, "There is no terrorist threat," should be forced to view this atrocity. Those who think the prisoner abuses at Abu Graib were horrible human rights violations should by forced to view the body of an 8 year old girl, her hands bound and her throat slit by their Muslim darlings.

America - you reading this column - do not let this family die in vain! Let them be martyrs to their faith and our freedom. Let their deaths become the turning point, the moment when America finally awoke to the dangers of radical Islam and realized that the war on terror is here, on our soil, now. Do not return to life as normal. Do not let the media give Michael Jackson more coverage than this gruesome terrorist attack. Demand that his story be the most covered of the year - call the national media, call your local media. Call your elected representatives and demand that the laws meant to combat terrorism be enforced. Exercise your Second Amendment rights; buy a gun to protect your family. Know and be willing to protect your neighbors. Keep your eyes open; watch for suspicious activity. Patrol your neighborhood. For God's sake, do not close your eyes to this atrocity!

Judson Cox is a political columnist from the mountains of North Carolina. He is quickly gaining recognition as one of the most popular and influential voices of his generation. Judson Cox is President of the Foundation for Conservative American Values and Editor In Chief of the North Carolina Conservative (soon to be North Carolina's largest circulation newspaper).



WEBCommentary Contributor
Author: Sher Zieve
Date: January 17, 2005

Murder of a New Jersey Christian Family

On Sunday, the butchered bodies of the Armanious family were found in their home--bound, gagged and stabbed to death. Included were the father, Hossam, his wife Amal Garas and their daughters; fifteen year old Sylvia and eight year old Monica. Of particular significance is the way in which they were murdered. As well as multiple stab wounds in all of the bodies, each had his and her throats slit; in accordance with ritualistic Quranic law. Sylvia appears to have suffered the worst, at the hands of the family's murderers. An additional stab wound was inflicted on her wrist, the wrist upon which a tattoo of the Coptic Christian cross appeared, and Sylvia sustained a long gash to her chest. Fred Ayed, a deacon from the family's church, dispelled rumors that the family's deaths were attributed to a robbery. Ayed said: "This is not a robbery. "We found all of the jewelry in the house. They didn't take anything."

What was the reason for the slaughter of the Armanious family? Almost immediately, one came to light. Hossam Armanious was outspoken about both his strong Christian faith and his disagreements with the tenets of Islam. He engaged in "heated debates" with Muslims on the web blog paltalk.com. During one of those chatroom sessions, Armanious was sent a response message that read: "You'd better stop this bull**** or we are going to track you down like a chicken and kill you!" It now appears that Armanious' nemesis followed through on the threat. Armanious and his entire family are now dead.

Unfortunately and unconscionably, as of this writing only one news channel (Fox) is reporting this story in any depth. In fact, neither the alphabet soup networks nor the other cable channels have even bothered to include it in their online news sites. Although the deaths of Muslims around the world are reported as front page news by the mainstream media, apparently the death of Christians (ostensibly at the hands of Muslims) isn't worth mentioning. And, of note, none of our ‘moderate' Muslim friends have said anything. In this case, both groups' silence says a mouthful.

One of the real concerns, as expressed by friends, is whether or not this may be a test case (designed by Islamo-fascists) to determine what the U.S. reaction would be, in regards to the killing of U.S. Christian citizens. Thus far it appears, with the blatant lack of concern by the mainstream press, that the terrorists may have their answer. The MSM doesn't seem to care, one way or the other. Last night, the Golden Globe ceremonies were more important. Except for Fox, the killings weren't even mentioned by the other major news sources. As the leftist-controlled MSM has been fighting Christianity for years, perhaps they see this as an answer to their Christian problem? I don't know. However, I do know that if the massacre of the Armanious family is not strongly addressed and the perpetrators tracked down and brought swiftly to justice, all Christians will need to be fearful; fearful that our justice system won't effectively deal with the situation and will [instead] sweep it under the rug. Will Christians, ultimately, be forced into hiding; or worse, denying their faith? If we don't resolutely deal with this, now, there won't be a later. It's up to each Christian to determine what efforts he or she will make toward correcting this abomination. If we do nothing, our fates will have already been sealed. The jihad against Christianity has now entered our homes.

Sher Zieve

About the Author: Sher Zieve is a conservative political commentator who firmly believes that if Leftists ran the country (left to their own devices), it would be the end of the United States as a sovereign nation. Sher's articles also appear in Men's News Daily, ACLU Exposed, US-News.net and other Internet sites. Ms. Zieve welcomes your comments.


MIM: It should be noted that the New York Times attempted to purge the story of any reference to Muslims and disingenously wrote that the murders might have been the result of a 'landlord tenant dispute'. Such political correctness will only encourage the Muslims who are 'testing the waters' to see public and media reaction.




The father of a murdered New Jersey family was threatened for making anti-Muslim remarks online — and the gruesome quadruple slaying may have been the hateful retaliation, sources told The Post yesterday.

Hossam Armanious, 47, who along with his wife and two daughters was found stabbed to death in his Jersey City home early Friday, would regularly debate religion in a Middle Eastern chat room, one source said.

Armanious, an Egyptian Christian, was well known for expressing his Coptic beliefs and engaging in fiery back-and-forth with Muslims on the Web site paltalk.com.

He "had the reputation for being one of the most outspoken Egyptian Christians," said the source, who had close ties to the family.

The source, who had knowledge of the investigation, refused to specify the anti-Muslim statement. But he said cops told him they were looking into the exchanges as a possible motive.

The married father of two had recently been threatened by Muslim members of the Web site, said a fellow Copt and store clerk who uses the chat room.

"You'd better stop this bull---- or we are going to track you down like a chicken and kill you," was the threat, said the clerk, who was online at the time and saw the exchange.

But Armanious refused to back down, according to two sources who use the Web site.

Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy would neither confirm nor deny that cops and prosecutors were looking into the religion motive, saying only that "nothing is being ruled out." But a relative of the mayor who answered the phone at Healy's home said there was information the murders were "religion-related."

"There are several theories we are looking into, but we are not commenting on any of them at this time," said Hudson County Assistant Prosecutor Guy Gregory.

Armanious' fervor apparently rubbed off on his daughter, Sylvia — who would have turned 16 yesterday.

"She was very religious and very opinionated," said Jessica Cimino, 15, a fellow sophomore at Dickenson HS.

A family member who viewed photos of the bloodbath said Sylvia seemed to have taken the most savage punishment.

"When we saw the pictures, you could tell that they were hurt really, really bad in the face; especially Sylvia," said Milad Garas, the high-school sophomore's great-uncle.

The heartless killer not only slit Sylvia's throat, but also sliced a huge gash in her chest and stabbed her in the wrist, where she had a tattoo of a Coptic cross.

Also found murdered were the wife, Amal Garas, and the parents' other daughter, Monica.

Fred Ayed, the deacon at St. George and St. Shenouda Church, where the deeply religious family attended services, said he's worried that the murders could have a ripple effect.

"I am concerned for the safety of our community," said Ayed, who knew Hossam for 30 years. "People are scared because one family was slain like cows," said Moheb Ghabour, publisher of a local newspaper for the Coptic community.

Osama Hassan, director of the Islamic Center of Jersey City, described the relationship between Copts and Muslims as cooperative if not friendly.

"I think there might be people that can get into physical fights, but not to the point of murder," Hassan said.

Both the deacon and uncle poured cold water on the theory that the family were the victims of a robbery gone wrong.

"This is not a robbery, Ayed said. "We found all of the jewelry in the house. They didn't take anything."

The FBI confirmed it has been called in to help with the case.

Additional reporting by Heather Gilmore





An emotional holy war broke out yesterday on the streets of Jersey City, where Muslims and Christians clashed and lobbed insults at the funeral for a devout family of Egyptian immigrants who may have been slain for their religious beliefs.

While mourners inside the St. George & St. Shenouda Coptic Orthodox Church prayed for peace in the wake of a murder that escalated religious tensions at home and abroad, fights erupted amid the crowd that spilled outside the church, where angry Coptic Christians pointed accusing fingers at their Muslim counterparts.

Hossam Armanious, 37, his wife, Amal Garas, 37, and their two daughters, Sylvia, 15, and Monica, 8, were found dead in their Oakland Avenue home early Friday after relatives told police nobody had heard from them in days.

Investigators said each victim was bound, gagged and stabbed in the neck, and the early focus was on anti-Muslim remarks Armanious made in a popular religious chat room after a relative said Armanious was threatened online for expressing his Christian beliefs.

Officials said the religious persecution theory is still under investigation, but said some evidence points to robbery as a motive.

Members of the city's Coptic community — many of whom left Egypt like Armanious to escape religious threats — believe there is a connection between their faith and the murders.

That sentiment was expressed loudly by one parishioner inside who began yelling at Muslims, including a sheik, who attended the service.

"Muslim is the killer," he said over and over before he was dragged from the church by five police officers who hustled him into an unmarked police car and quickly drove away.

Tensions were high even before the first copper-colored casket arrived, when, during a procession to the church from Journal Square, family members asked mourners to put away anti-Muslim protest signs.

But emotions really boiled over in the moments after the wistful service when a skirmish broke out as the four black hearses adorned with the victims' pictures were being loaded.

Punches were thrown, people were shoved and police rushed in to break up the brawl that had moved up Bergen Avenue to a nearby parking garage.

For a while, cops kept the crowd separated with a metal garage gate until they could restore order.

"I think people here have fueled it," family friend Henry Simon, 35, said of the tension.

]"The sheik came at the wrong time. It's like spitting on their graves."

Those too sad to be angry had kind words for the deeply religious family, especially young Sylvia, who died a day before her Sweet 16 party.

Jersey City Councilman Steve Lipski recalled her unselfish work to help the destitute during Thanksgiving during a program sponsored by the church.

"She was there with her big, bright beautiful smile trying to help people," said Lipski, one of several elected officials including current Mayor Jerramiah Healy and former mayor Bret Schundler.

Sunday school teacher Miriam Fam read a poem the teenager wrote:

"No more tears for me to cry. No more days where I have to lie . . . No more sadness to darken my day. No more rain to fog my daydreams. No more pain in my life. No more fear of getting killed with life's knife."

Police said more than 1,500 people were on hand, far more than could fit in the church, which was standing room only yesterday.

A reward of $100,000 is being offered by Coptic leaders for information that leads to an arrest and conviction.

"It doesn't appear to be random," said Assistant Hudson County Prosecutor Guy Gregory. "It appears to be a specific act. Someone was able to gain access without forcing entry."

Investigators learned that a relative of the victims had helped prosecutors in their case against Lynne Stewart, the lawyer charged with passing messages to followers of her client, blind Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, a convicted terrorist ringleader.

But sources close to the case said there is no connection between the relative and the murders.


MIM: British newspaper coverage emphasized the anti Muslim protests at the funeral


AP Photo NJNEW107


Associated Press Writer

JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) - A funeral for an Egyptian Christian couple and their two daughters slain last week devolved into a melee after the services Monday, with mourners shoving and punching each other as many blamed Muslims for the killings.

Investigators are looking into the possibility that Hossam Armanious, 47, his 37-year-old wife, Amal Garas, and their daughters, Sylvia, 15, and Monica, 8, were slain by a Muslim angered over postings that the father wrote in an Internet chat room.

The family is part of the Coptic Orthodox Church, whose members make up about 10 percent of Egypt's population. Copts generally live in peace with Muslims, but violence has flared in Egypt recently, including protests last month that flared into stone-throwing and arrests.

The New Jersey family's bodies were found bound and gagged Friday, their throats and heads stabbed repeatedly. No arrests have been made.

Authorities stressed that robbery remained a possible motive because no cash or jewelry were found in the home. Prosecutor Guy Gregory said the father's wallet was found empty.

Despite the possibility of robbery, the slayings have created enormous tensions between Muslims and Christians here. The acrimony became apparent as soon as four copper caskets holding the bodies were carried through the streets of New Jersey's second-largest city to a church.

Protesters carrying anti-Muslim signs and shouting anti-Islam slogans prompted several scuffles with mourners, who rebuked the protesters for having no respect for the dead or the grieving relatives. One sign, above a photograph of the smiling family, read, "American Family Beheaded on American Soil. Welcome Bin Laden." Another read "Terrorists Reached Our Home."

"Muslims as a group kill people," said Ashaf Baul, a marchers at the head of the procession. "Nobody else slaughters people. If it was a robbery, why tie their hands and cut their heads?"

But others in the procession took offense at such talk.

"Get out! We don't need any talk about Sept. 11 or Muslims!" yelled Amil Sarofiem, a church official, to a man who was shouting anti-Muslim slogans.

Once the bodies were loaded into four black hearses to be taken to a cemetery, more clashes broke out in the street outside the church, including one in which about 35 people shoved each other and traded punches. Police officers pushed several against cars to separate them from the fray as the fight spilled into a parking garage.

Inside the church, Ferial Karas, Garas' sister-in-law, screamed as the caskets came into view. She jumped out of her seat in the first row of portable chairs and raced toward one of the coffins, flinging herself on it and sobbing. With that, scores of screams and wails rose from other mourners in the crowd of 2,000 that packed so tightly into the building that police had to turn away an additional 300 who sought to push their way inside.

One man inside the church began screaming "Muslim is the killer! Muslim is the killer!" He was dragged from the church by five police officers who hustled him into an unmarked police car and quickly drove off.

Ahmed Sheded, president of the Islamic Center of Jersey City who attended the ceremony, denounced the slayings.

"We feel this is something that was very far away from our community," he said. "A real Muslim can't do that. Any religious person who believes in God cannot do this, even to an animal."

The regional head of the Coptic church also cautioned against a rush to judgment, but Monir Dowoud, president of the American Coptic Association, said Sunday that "Muslim terrorists" were responsible.

The Coptic Orthodox Church is one of the oldest communities in Christendom. According to tradition it was founded in the first century A.D. by Saint Mark, one of the 12 apostles of Jesus.


Argument over faiths probed in killing of 4

Jersey City man received chat-room death threat

Sunday, January 16, 2005 Newark Star Ledger


Star-Ledger Staff


Authorities are exploring whether a religious argument in an Internet chat room led to the slaughter of a Coptic Christian couple and their two daughters in their Jersey City home, relatives of the slain family said yesterday.

One of the victims, 47-year-old Hossam Armanious, spent some of his spare time in chat rooms devoted to the Egyptian religious sect, at times proselytizing and at times writing about persecution of Coptic Christians by Muslims, family friends said.

Armanious' hobby took a dark turn about two months ago, friends said, when he was threatened after writing comments deemed an insult to Islam by another person logged in to a chat site.

"Some Muslim guys said if you don't stop this, we're going to come out and kill you," said a family friend, who requested anonymity, citing fears for his safety.

First Assistant Hudson County Prosecutor Guy Gregory would not comment on the possibility that the slayings were a bias crime.

"We are continuing the investigation, making inquiries on several theories, and will not comment further," Gregory said.

The friend said Armanious told him about the threat but did not seem especially worried about it. Those logged into the chat rooms frequented by Armanious are identified only by nicknames, providing a measure of anonymity.

Investigators, however, remain interested in the lead.

An uncle of Armanious' wife, Amal Garas, said yesterday that detectives told him they were pursuing the chat room argument as a possible motive for the slayings. The uncle, Milad Garas, was one of many family members interviewed by police Friday.

"One detective said this was his theory," the uncle said.

The FBI is assisting in the case, but a spokesman for the agency called the federal involvement a routine matter.

"It's nothing out of the ordinary for us to be there, especially given the gravity of the crime," said the spokesman, Special Agent Steve Siegel. "This was a horrible crime, and any time a law enforcement officer sees something like that, they're going to want to lend a hand."

The bodies of Armanious, Amal Garas, 37, and the couple's two children, 15-year-old Sylvia and 8-year-old Monica, were discovered early Friday, when worried relatives led police to their home in the Heights section of Jersey City.

The victims, who immigrated to the United States from Luxor, Egypt, in 1997, had been bound and gagged, their throats slashed. Police, noting no sign of forced entry, said Friday the victims most likely knew their killers.

Outside the home yesterday, friends of the slain family left personal notes and tokens of friendship: a purple stuffed dog, a SpongeBob SquarePants doll, a basket of artificial lilies and pansies.

A dozen teenagers, friends of Sylvia Armanious, clung to one another and cried after leaving candles on the sidewalk.

Not far away, at the family's parish, St. George & St. Shenouda Coptic Orthodox Church, relatives gathered for six hours, sharing in memories and grief.

Ayman Garas, a brother of Amal Garas, said family members remain confused and devastated. His mother, Garas said, has been unable to sleep since the grisly discovery, her every moment haunted.

"She felt like four spirits were going around her all night yelling, ‘Help, help,'" Ayman Garas said. "Up to this moment, it's a like a dream."

The attack has hit equally hard in the tight-knit Coptic community. Yesterday, the Coptic Business Association of Jersey City offered a $500,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

"Christian blood is not cheap," said the group's president, Adel Agib. "We want to know who killed them. We want to catch them."

While authorities maintain that no motive has been ruled out, news of the Internet threat against Armanious spread quickly among Copts, who seized on the theory that religious hatred played a role.

"This was a terrorist attack," said Amgad Zakhari, 32, a real estate investor who has known the Armanious family since their arrival in the United States. "It was to make an example of Egyptian Christians, to silence them. It has to be a religious motivation."

Other friends and family members said the manner of the killings suggested the same to them.

"The way they did this tragedy is not a normal thing," said Milad Garas, the uncle of Amal Garas. "Nobody does this for a robbery."

Fred Ayad, a deacon at St. George, performed last rites on the victims. The savagery of the attack, with the family members suffering multiple stab and slash wounds, showed hatred, he said.

But Ayad said he hoped the rumors swarming through the community did not roil Coptic-Muslim relations, a point repeated by the bishop who represents the Coptic community in the Northeast.

"We cannot at this point make speculations," said Bishop David, who uses only one name. "It is the job of the police who protect us and keep us safe to tell us who has done that, and bring them to court and bring them to justice."

Mohamed Younes, president of the American Muslim Union, a New Jersey group, also expressed worry that speculation about the killings would increase friction between the two groups.

"I don't like it when somebody is jumping to conclusions before the police find anything," Younes said. "In this case, you don't know who's behind this or why they'd want to do this."

Relations between Muslims and Coptic Christians have historically been tense. Copts are a minority in Muslim-dominated Egypt, and Coptic Web sites contain numerous accounts of persecution at the hands of the government and the nation's residents.

In Jersey City, the heart of New Jersey's Coptic community, Copts and Muslims share an uneasy peace, residents say.

Armanious, a banquet waiter known as a very devout man, did not intentionally slight Muslims when he visited Internet chat rooms, friends said.

"He was trying to tell people about Christianity," Zakhari said. "He was a good Christian. He was trying to use the Internet to help the community. He was trying to give the Christian word."

Armanious was so involved in the Internet talks that he became an administrator in one of the chat rooms, reached through an instant-messaging portal (www.paltalk.com).

The friend, who recounted the threat against Armanious and who requested anonymity, said the slain man had been engaged in the hobby for about five years. The altercation that unfolded two months ago started when another user of the site took offense to Armanious' comments about Islam, telling him to "shut up."

"I can say whatever I want," the friend said Armanious responded. "I live in America."

It was then that the other person threatened to come after Armanious, the friend said.

A funeral Mass for the family is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. tomorrow at St. George.

Staff writers Jeff Diamant, Kate Coscarelli and Brian Donohue contributed to this report.


Tension between Copts, Muslims also immigrated

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Newark Star Ledger


Star-Ledger Staff


In Egypt, they lived as a Christian religious minority in a predominately Muslim country.

That, along with economic troubles in Egypt, is what led many Coptic Christians to immigrate over the last 40 years to the United States, where several hundred thousand now live, mostly in New Jersey, New York and California.

Copts are part of a religious tradition that broke with mainstream Christianity in 451 over a doctrinal dispute on the nature of Christ. Their current spiritual leader, Pope Shenouda III, is based in Cairo and visits the United States frequently.

Tensions that have strained relations between Copts and Muslims in Egypt also exist in the United States, but with far less potency than in Egypt, as Coptic Christians feel much more religious freedom here, several Copts said.

"I don't think that Coptic people in the U.S. suffer from anyone," said Mamdouh Abdelsayed, a Coptic Christian who lives in Kearny. "We are not a minority anymore as we are in Egypt. ... Dealing with Muslim people, we don't have problems. I'm doing my job, they're doing their job."

In Egypt, Coptic Christians feel their minority status every day, said Monir Dawoud, 65, who moved to the United States from Egypt in 1975.

"The media is all owned by the government, and the media is all Muslim, praising Islam and minimizing Christianity, making it very tough for Christians to live," said Dawoud, a surgeon in Hudson County and acting president of the American Coptic Association.

The killings of 21 Coptic Christians in riots five years ago in Kosheh, Egypt, remain a vivid memory for many.

In the United States, leaders of Egyptian Muslim and Coptic communities have tried to soothe relations, meeting several times at the Egyptian embassy in recent years.

"We can show we are the American-Egyptian family. We're all living here as foreigners," said Mohamed Younes, president of the American Muslim Union, a New Jersey group. "If we live in peace together, we give a good impression to people back in Egypt."

Yet some Copts and Muslims interviewed yesterday said distrust still exists.

"At the job, I talk to them, but (they) don't go inside my house," said Ashraf Paul, a Coptic Christian who drives a taxi in Jersey City. "I don't trust them."

Abdal Aziz, a Muslim taxi driver in Jersey City, offered the same sentiment.

"Most of the taxi owners in Journal Square are Christian. They don't help us. We don't need their help, and we can't trust them."

In Egypt, diplomacy between Coptic and government leaders is a delicate affair.

The main Coptic leader in the northeast United States, Bishop David, acknowledged in an interview last night that Copts want more religious freedoms in Egypt but stressed that the government is improving on that front. In recent years, for example, television has begun airing Christmas and Easter Masses.

Staff writer Paul Nelson contributed to this story.



Background information on Coptic Christians from Dr. Daniel Pipes

The Copts Find Their Voice Through the centuries, the Copts (Christians of Egypt) have been among the more meek of dhimmis, rarely raising their voices in protest against their restricted lives, and this has been especially the case through the difficult twentieth century. But when Copts leave their ancestral homeland, ending up in North American, Western Europe, and Australia in particular, they find their voice. They take out advertisements, organize rallies, lobby, and hold conferences.

In this context, I was privileged to take part in The First International Coptic Symposium that took place Sept. 23-25 in Zurich, which featured strong, sensible analyses and a set of excellent resolutions. (For anyone interested, the symposium has posted my talk.)

Unfortunately, the Egyptian government usually responds to this sort of activism with the pettiest sort of retribution, and the Zurich conference provoked the usual silliness. Here is a note to me from Adly A. Youssef, organizer of the conference:

the first reaction of the government was to remove three lines of phones and fax from my Cairo office. The office is in my name, but I have only hold a 5% ownership in it, so it belongs mostly to the other partners. When we asked the authorities what the matter is, their answer was that they are installing "Humayuni lines instead of the fax and telephone lines"!

("Humayun" is a reference to the Hatti-Humayun, a piece of Ottoman legislation from 1856 that still controls the building or repair of churches in Egypt and is a source of great aggravation to the Copts.)

In itself, taking out telephone lines is pure pettiness, but it intimidates. It's time for the Egyptian government to accept that its citizens have the right to criticize it. (September 30, 2004)

Oct. 11, 2004 update: The telephone, fax, and internet lines to Adly Youssef's office in Cairo are up and working today, after sixteen days of "repairs." Good for the Egyptian authorities.

Daniel Pipes.

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