Prayer Vigil Held for Slain Coptic Christian Family

Posted 01-31-2005 23:15:41 (GMT 2-1-2005 5:15:41)        Send to Printer         Printer Friendly         Email This Link         Reader Comments

Scores of believers gathered Saturday night for a candlelight prayer vigil at the home of a Coptic Christian family that was found brutally slain earlier this month.

According to the Associated Press, many attendees made passionate pleas to the community, urging them to remain peaceful and unified while investigators pursue leads in the murders of Hossam Armanious, a 47-year-old Coptic Christian, his 37-year-old wife, Amal Garas, and their daughters, Sylvia, 15, and Monica, 8.

Earlier this month, enormous tensions between Muslims and Christians in New Jersey's second largest city surfaced during the funeral for the Christian family of four whose bodies were found bound and gagged, their throats and heads stabbed repeatedly. As mourners took the city's streets to St. George & St. Shenouda Coptic Orthodox Church on Monday, grief and rage erupted as many blamed Muslims for the killings. According to some family members, Armanious had engaged in heated debate about Islam on a religious Web site.

The St. Abraam's Coptic Orthodox Church in Woodbury, N.Y. had issued a statement after the grisly slayings, cautioning against "jumping to conclusions." However the statement also said "some signs point to this incident being a religiously motivated hate crime against Coptic Christians."

While no arrests have been made, Hudson County authorities have said nothing so far supports the theory. And many of the 150 people attending the vigil--mostly Coptic Christians from New Jersey and the New York City area--said they wanted the event to be a symbol of peace and unity for the shaken community.

"Until the police investigation is over, we do not want to point the finger at anyone," Mickey Raid, of Westchester, N.Y., told The Record of Bergen County.

"A lot of people have been emotional and upset and have said some angry things, and we just want people to know we're all in this together," Raid said. "We want to show that there is a peaceful way to honor this family and react to this."

Currently, authorities are investigating the possibility that the Coptic Christian family was slain by a Muslim angered over postings that Armanious wrote in an Internet chat room. Investigators also continue to look at robbery as a possible motive; however, the "viciousness" of the attacks has led many to believe that the slayings did not stem from a simple robbery.

Kenneth Chan

Christian Post

2005, Assyrian International News Agency.  All Rights Reserved. Terms of Use.