Precinct 333

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Was It Islamo-cide?

Hossam Armanious, a Coptic Christian from Jersey City, was an outspoken participant in a chat-room on Middle Eastern affairs, frequently engaging in heated discussions of religion. He was recently threatened for his critical remarks about Islam.

Now Armanious, his wife and his two daughters are dead, victims of a brutal murder.

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

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.

Police are not commenting on the issue, but that religious motivation appears to be one that they are looking at closely. The FBI has been called in to help with the investigation.

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.

So it appears that there was special attention paid to desecrating a religious symbol. Sounds to me like a sign that anti-Christian bias was a motive for the slayings.

And it is clear that robbery wasn't a motive -- the violence done to the bodies and the fact that the family's valuables were left behind makes that rather plain.

In Egypt, home of the Coptic Church, Copts are a minority oppressed by the Muslim majority. The hostility between the groups continues to exist in this country. After all, Copts still resent the oppression of their co-religionists in Eypt, while Muslims continue to expect the Copts to be good dhimmi even in a country where they have religious freedom guaranteed by the Constitution.

Have the Islamists become so comfortable in this country that they believe they may kill with impunity those who criticize their religion and the evil done in its name?


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