Any mention of the death threat the Armanious family received from a Muslim? Any mention of reports that Christian tattoos were sliced off the bodies? Any mention of other indications that this crime was religiously motivated?
No. Just the knee-jerk assumption that this is just another excuse to victimize Muslims. This unwillingness to deal fairly with the evidence is what arouses the very suspicions the people quoted here resent.
From AP, with thanks to Anthony:
JERSEY CITY, N.J. — The dirty looks and shouted slurs started in 1993 after Muslims living here helped plan the bombing of the World Trade Center. They intensified on Sept. 11, 2001, when Muslim hijackers brought down the twin towers just across the Hudson River.
Now a third wave of anti-Muslim sentiment is washing over New Jersey’s second-largest city, sparked this time by reports that the murders of an Egyptian Christian man, his wife and two young daughters might have been carried out by Muslims angered over postings the man made in an Internet chat room.
The strife is particularly distressing in light of efforts the area’s Muslim community made to reach out to other faiths and strengthen ties after the 9/11 attacks. Imams visited churches and synagogues. Joint prayer breakfasts and open houses were held. Muslim merchants visited the homes of their Christian and Jewish counterparts, and strongly denounced the terror attacks.
“We’ve been working for three years on getting Christians together with Muslims,” said Mohamed Younes, president of the American Muslim Union. “Now much of that progress is gone. It is definitely going to be set back.
“I’m just sorry we weren’t able to do more before this happened,” he said. “If we had a stronger relationship, something like this would never have happened because then you’d have a window to talk to the other side.”
The bodies of Hossam Armanious, a 47-year-old Coptic Christian, his 37-year-old wife, Amal Garas, and their daughters, Sylvia, 15, and Monica, 8, were discovered last week in the family’s home. They had been bound and gagged, and each was stabbed repeatedly in the neck and head.
Although prosecutors have stressed that robbery remains a possible motive in the case, many in this city’s sizable Egyptian population believe the killings were religiously motivated.
For people like Ahmed Shedeed, director of the Islamic Center of Jersey City, the feeling is all too familiar.
“We Muslims living in America are getting sick of this crap,” he said. “Why should we have to apologize for or make a defense of something we had nothing to do with? There is no proof at all that Muslims had anything to do with this, yet we are taking the blame again. Is Islam on trial, or is a killer on trial?”
No arrests have been made in the case.
After the killings, Muslims tried anew to mend fences, but the results were mixed, at best. Several attended the family’s funeral, but a New York cleric had to be escorted from the church hall for his own protection after a heckler started shouting at him. Mourners engaged in several scuffles before and after the funeral, including one in which about 35 people pushed, shoved and traded punches in the street as others yelled anti-Islam slogans.
A few days later, Muslim leaders called a press conference designed as an interfaith rally to try to calm religious tensions, but Christian groups who were invited did not attend, citing a religious holiday of their own. A similar interfaith event planned for this Sunday, which had been in the works for months, had to be postponed due to expected bad weather.
The killings have spread fear among Coptic Christians far beyond Jersey City. Relatives of the Armanious family in Egypt blamed the killings on violence in American society and weak interpersonal relationships in this country. On Long Island, N.Y., members of the St. Abraam’s Coptic Orthodox Church in Woodbury said the killings appeared to be “a religiously motivated hate crime against Coptic Christians.”
“A lot of families are feeling the fear and terror that comes along with something like this,” said Maged Riad, a church member. “They got them in their home in the middle of the night. People want to know they can be safe in their own homes.”…
Suzanne Loutfy, a Muslim leader of the Egyptian-American Group, asked people not to blame Islam if the killers are found to be Muslim.
“People are so willing to condemn an entire religion,” she said. “That’s what the big problem is. People commit crimes; religions don’t. I hope we can be intelligent enough to separate those two.”
People commit crimes that are motivated by religion. That has to be faced.
CORRECTION: There is a great deal of confusion surrounding this case, with contradictory reports. The Hudson County Prosecutors Office has stated that the tattoos were in fact not defaced. I have also just received confirmation of that from an informed source.