The murder of a Coptic Christian family raises an alert to persecution in the U-S.

By January 21, 2005

USA (MNN)–Police continue to investigate the murder of a New Jersey Coptic Christian family as possibly being religiously motivated.

The father, Hossam Armanious was well known for expressing his beliefs to Muslims in Internet chatrooms, leading to threats being made.

Tensions have been running high between Christians and Muslims in New Jersey following the discovery last week of the bodies of Armanious, 47, his 37-year-old wife, Amal Garas, and their daughters, Sylvia, 15, and Monica, 8.

While prosecutors have actually downplayed the possibility of a religious motive, and local Muslims vehemently disputed the suggestion, there are those in the Coptic Christian community who believe it was a militant Muslim who commited the hate crime. Robbery also remains a possible motive, so some leaders of area churches are urging their parishioners not to jump to conclusions.

Either way, the case remains shrouded in mystery, fueling endless speculation and countless theories. Even if it turns out the murders were not a jihad, Voice of the Martyrs’ Todd Nettleton says the issue has brought up one important point. “This was a family who was talking about their Christian faith, who was encouraging Muslims to leave Islam and follow Christ, and that is where you run into persecution.”

Nettleton calls the incident a ‘wake-up call’ for the American church. “We know that radical Islam exists in the Middle East. We’re not surprised when Christians in Indonesia or in Egypt are attacked, and yet, it seems, that we’re all rather shocked that it could happen on American soil. We need to understand though, that the faith that the Bible presents, especially in the New Testament, is a faith that expects to be persecuted.”

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