“Christians & Muslims Brawl,” from the New York Post, :
January 18, 2005 — 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.
If robbery were the motive “” and reports have been conflicting about whether the family was robbed at all “” it would be strange that the victims were all stabbed in the neck, as opposed to any other place. But then there is the possibility that they were struck in the necks for being unbelievers, in accord with Qur’an 47:4. The idea that if it were a robbery, it couldn’t be a religiously-motivated killing, is silly. After all, historically Muslim warriors always plundered the victims of jihad.
Note also this interesting detail buried at the end of the story:
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.