New Jersey Muslim Group Seeks Tolerance
Of course this report reminded us of the killing of the Armanious family in Jersey City. It also called to mind this quote from Ahmed Shedeed, director of the Islamic Center of Jersey City. His remark apparently prompted in response to the fear and speculation growing among the city’s Coptic Christians that the killings might have been religiously motivated.
Speakers at an annual Islamic brunch on Sunday called for greater understanding and tolerance, saying Muslims face constant threats to the kind of everyday existence that other Americans take for granted.
Among the speakers were U.S. Sen. Jon S. Corzine, D-N.J.; Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-Paterson, and Assemblywoman Loretta Weinberg, D-Teaneck.
"The American Muslim community has never felt so insecure and apprehensive due to discrimination and intolerance," "Our government's actions following 9/11 have impacted and continue to impact tens of thousands of individuals in ways which seriously violate our Constitution. They include ethnically and religiously based interrogations, detentions, raids and closures of Muslim charities."
Though the event came just one month after the slaying of four members of a Coptic Orthodox family in Jersey City, that incident was hardly mentioned. After the killings, a police source said that one of several leads being pursued was the possibility that the deaths were carried out by religious extremists.
"We Muslims living in America are getting sick of this crap," he said. "Why should we have to apologize for or make a defense of something we had nothing to do with? There is no proof at all that Muslims had anything to do with this, yet we are taking the blame again. Is Islam on trial, or is a killer on trial?"
One month later the Armanious case has not been solved, but this is what we know based upon today’s report by North Jersey.com
We do know that a Coptic Christian husband, wife and their two young daughters were savagely murdered.
The report goes on to recount Hossam Armanious searching for the deposed Bishop of Luxor during a trip to Egypt this past summer and that Mr. Armanious found him in a monastery in the desert. We learn the FBI has gone to Egypt to investigate and that it is not known whether Armanious' trip or visit with the bishop had any connection to the homicides. No matter how you look at this case, it is not your run of the mill robbery, mass murder.
Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio still won't discuss the intricate details of the case or explain why investigators are leaning toward a financial motive for the killings. But he did provide a glimpse into the probe, which has included assistance from an FBI profiler.
One investigator familiar with the case said, the extent of Hossam Armanious' injuries suggests a substantial effort was expended and that the killers likely spent a "considerable amount of time" inside the house. Armanious clearly suffered the worst of the injuries, including numerous stab wounds. Each member of the family was found bound by duct tape, a bag over their head and all appeared to have suffered "ritualistic" injuries that included holes bored under each victim's neck.
DeFazio conceded: "This was a savage, savage attack. Whoever did this are not humans." However, he insisted the injuries aren't consistent with those in ritualistic homicide.
One theory holds that the victims were significantly wealthier than their modest home indicated and the killers were trying to gain access to the hidden money. Although there was evidence of robbery, a large amount of jewelry remained untouched, authorities said. Several religious symbols - including cross tattoos on each family member's wrist - weren't damaged.
Investigators were still pursuing court orders to gain access to family records. DeFazio wouldn't say which, nor would he discuss the family's finances, other than to say, "They didn't live hand to mouth."
"Do you think if it was financial they would not take the gold and a ring from my sister's finger?" said Ayman Garas, the dead woman's brother. "Do you think if Hossam had a lot of money he would have complained about his job not giving him enough hours? "I mean, he never complained about money, but he wasn't rich." Armanious was laid off from the catering job about six months ago and Amal Garas had recently gotten a job with the U.S. Postal Service, said Rafique Iscandar, a family friend.
"There's a lot of confluence in this case, I'll give you that," said DeFazio, who has been studying writings about the Quran, the Muslim holy book, to gain knowledge about Islam.
A mitigating factor in how many Coptics view the killings is a deep mistrust of the Egyptian government, which many accuse of systematic discrimination. Many Copts fled Egypt to America in the 1980s and 1990s to avoid what they perceived as growing Islamic fundamentalism and an increase in tension between the Muslim majority and the Christian minority.
"Americans are stupid and naïve," Iscandar said. "They don't understand the Middle East."
So what’s our point? Every time we read one of these stories about Muslims complaining that they live under constant threat in the U.S. because of their religion, we want to scream. We could spit nails every time an American politician falls in line with this Muslims are victims meme.
Those complaining never point to any actual facts or provide substantiated cases in which Muslims have been harmed in the United States because of their religious faith. Instead we get vague references to the impact of the Patriot Act on the Muslim population, purported treatment of Muslims in violation of the U.S. Constitution and tales of unfounded raids on Muslim charities.
We think it is a testament to the tolerance of the American people that Muslims living in the United States have not been subjected to a major backlash by the American people after the Islamic terrorist attacks of 9/11.
When will non-Muslims be afforded religious tolerance by Muslims? We are sick of living under a constant barrage of Muslim threats. The never ending threats that come from the audio and video tapes of Bin Laden and Zawahir; the barbarous acts we witness committed by jihadists around the world in the name of Islam and the hate and violence incited by Muslim leaders against the infidel in American mosques, as well as those around the world.
Americans have shown our tolerance and compassion towards Muslims in the outpouring of sympathy and charitable donations to the Asian tsunami victims and through our military action to save Muslims from being slaughtered in Bosnia and Kosovo. Recent actions by Americans that occurred before and after 9/11. If there has been a reciprocal expression of tolerance by a Muslim group, we’ve missed it.
We are all for religious tolerance and recognize that you can’t judge a whole people based upon the actions of the few. However, we think Muslims might cut the rest of us a break the next time someone gives them a “dirty look” in light of their 300 million calling for our death and destruction.