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Life of fear for Christian Arabs

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  • Fr. John-Brian
    Jewish World Review March 3, 2005 /22 Adar I, 5765 Life of fear for Christian Arabs By Richard Z. Chesnoff http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Last month s
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      Jewish World Review March 3, 2005 /22 Adar I, 5765

      Life of fear for Christian Arabs

      By Richard Z. Chesnoff

      http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Last month's grisly murder in Jersey City
      of Hossam Armanious, his wife, Amal, and two daughters, Sylvia and Monica,
      remains unsolved. But friends and relatives of the family are convinced the
      bloody crime is rooted in a growing wave of violence and oppression against
      Christians taking place in Arab countries.

      They may well be right.

      The Armanious family was devoutly Coptic Christian — an ancient orthodox
      Egyptian sect that has long suffered from discrimination and coercion in
      largely Muslim Egypt. Armanious did something in America that he wouldn't
      dare try in his native Egypt: He attempted to convert Muslims to

      That, say members of the local Coptic community, angered Islamic extremists
      and led to the murder.

      New Jersey police say they have no proof it was religious murder and are
      still considering robbery among the motives, although Armanious was far from
      rich and family jewelry was found untouched in the house.

      Hudson County Prosecutor Edward De Fazio tells me he doesn't believe it was
      religious murder, although he also won't rule it out.

      Local Coptic Christians, understandably, think otherwise. The Armanious
      family was found bound, gagged and stabbed multiple times — a murder style
      that follows a Koranic prescription for ritual execution, according to
      Michael Meunier, a representative of the the U.S. Copts Association.

      "This was no robbery," a frightened-looking New York City Coptic shopkeeper
      whispered to me recently. "Arabs did it."

      The fears of our country's Coptic community are even more understandable in
      light of what is happening to Christians across the Arab world.

      "Christians, natives of Arab countries, are escaping their countries of
      origin," says Iraqi columnist Majid Azaza. "The reason is the harassment to
      which they are subjected by government agencies on the one hand, and
      extremist groups on the other hand, in countries they have inhabited for
      thousands of years."

      Azaza says that Lebanese Christians — once a solid majority — continue to
      emigrate by the thousands as a result of the pressures placed upon them by
      Lebanon's growing Islamic fundamentalists. In Saudi Arabia, organized
      Christian religious worship is outlawed altogether - even for the oil-rich
      kingdom's foreign workers.

      In Egypt, Copts say their community is subject to new discrimination in
      work, even violent attacks, and the forceful abduction and conversion of
      their daughters to Islam. In Palestinian areas, says Azaza, "Christians are
      becoming almost extinct."

      Thirty years ago, 70% of the population of Bethlehem was Christian Arab.
      Today, the traditional birthplace of Jesus is more than 70% Muslim.

      "People are afraid not only of the Arab versus Israeli violence, but of
      Muslim extremist pressure on us," a Christian businessman told me on a
      recent visit. "They want our land, they want our businesses, they want our

      In light of this worldwide persecution, it's time to find out who
      slaughtered the Armanious family and why.

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