JERSEY CITY, N.J. -- As religious tension continued to boil here following
the murder of an Egyptian Christian family, Muslim groups denounced the
killings and prayed for the victims.
Prosecutors continued to investigate 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 Armanious, a
Coptic Christian, wrote in an Internet chat room.
The bodies were found bound and gagged Friday, their throats and heads
stabbed repeatedly. No arrests had been made as of Tuesday afternoon.
But prosecutors stressed there is strong evidence that robbery might have
been the motive for the killings.
"Money was not found at the scene," said First Assistant Hudson County
Prosecutor Gaetano Gregory. "Mr. Armanious' pockets had been turned out and
his wallet was emptied. A pocketbook had been emptied. Drawers had been
rifled in the home."
He would not comment on the possibility of religious animosity as a motive
in the slayings. Investigators have taken a computer from the children's
"We continue to review several theories," Gregory said. "Our goal is to
identify the killers. We believe that when the killers are identified, the
motive for this wanton and vile crime will be revealed.
"We continue to explore any theory that is supported by evidence recovered
at the scene," he said. "Speculation as to motive will not advance our
The killings have created enormous tension between Coptic Christians,
mainly immigrants from Egypt, and Muslims in this city still reeling from a
wave of anti-Muslim bias after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks...
Before, during and after Monday's funeral for the family, protesters
screamed anti-Islam slogans and carried signs comparing the murders to
Middle East terrorism. Mourners scuffled in the streets as emotions ran
"No one who believes in God could have done this, no matter what religion
they are," Ahmed Sheded, president of the Islamic Center of Jersey City,
said of the slayings after attending the funeral.
The American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee denounced the killings as
"senseless and horrible…"
Likewise, the Council on American-Islamic Relations also condemned the
killings and offered condolences to the Coptic community. Religious leaders
said Muslims were keeping the family in their prayers.
"May God give comfort to the family and friends of the victim," said Magdy
Mahmoud, president of the group's New Jersey chapter. He said the possible
bias angle should be thoroughly investigated.
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