Posted on January 18, 2005

Christians & Muslims Brawl

Erin Calabrese, Jeane MacIntosh, and Leonard Greene, New York Post, Jan. 18

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.