Leaving Islam




A "Coptical" Illusion (Part II)

(C) Carrie Devorah

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National Press Club, NPC, event attendance varies event to event.

Months earlier, no media attended a press conference held by American women formerly married to Saudi National husbands, despite some of the wives alleging their husbands were asked to participate in the 911 attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center . Then Wednesday the 17th, less than an hour before a press conference called for by the US Copts Association took place, a handful of media in the Zenger Room had crossed the hall from where Christian Broadcast Network’s founder Pat Robertson dropped his bombshell statements- the United Nations should be done away with and that Israeli Prime Minister Sharon’s disengagement plan for Gaza threatens the security of Israel and its citizens. Elevators heading to the top floor were filled with media. There is something about the scent of blood that draws crowds and journalists. Especially when the blood belongs to an immigrant family discovered tethered, their necks sliced and bored like cows at slaughter.  

The press conference started late. Media, responding to the US Copts Association press release the Garas family from New Jersey wanted to speak to reporters, packed the room. The press conference was little more than a month after Hossam, 47, Amal, 37, Sylvia, 15 and Monica, 8, Armanious, of Hudson County , New Jersey ’s Jersey City , were discovered. Sylvia’s 16th birthday.  

The wait time for the Garas family was used by attending NGO’s, non governmental organizations, to hand reporters the organizations’ press releases. The room quieted when Garas’ single filed in, men and woman, in black - Ayman, brother of Amal; Emad Fahmy, brother-in-law of Amal; uncles Emil, Gameel, Alphonse and Milad, stood behind the lectern. Amal’s  mother Ferail, worn from her flight, exhausted by the loss of her daughter and granddaughters, sat to the side. Ferail speaks little English, “My Monica,” she said. Tears flooded her eyes. Looking skywards, “Ave maria.” Monica, 8, was bound, gagged alongside her sister Sylvia and their parents, Hossam, 47, and Amal, 37, their throats sliced and bored. Monica’s wrists were slit. Relatives said they had not seen other family member’s wrists. They were shrouded. Ayman, Amal’s brother expressed the conviction that brought a family in mourning to speak to national media. Over 6 feet tall, he pulled himself taller, looking at the ceiling. Tears welled in his eyes. Whoever said men don’t cry; never saw a man who witnessed the bloody carnage of his sister and her children.  

Rev. Dr. Keith Roderick, Washington representative of Christian Solidarity International, secretary General of the Coalition for the Defense of Human Rights stood in front of media gathered at the National Press Club’s headquarters by the US Copts Association. Roderick said: “The fact that this press conference is taking place in Washington , DC rather than in Jersey City points to the broader impact of this case.” US Copts headquarters are three floors beneath the Press Club. Roderick said,

“Many non-Muslim immigrants have told me that they believed that when they fled to the United States , they would be safe,” referring to “religious persecution and violence by Jihadists in their native countries.” “This case is unnerving. The delay in pursuing leads indicating a hate crime risks a terrible miscarriage of justice.” Roderick said earlier, “To avoid pursuit of what may be the most obvious motive of the murder for fear of maligning one part of the Jersey City community or creating a backlash against that community is irresponsible.”  

Roderick’s NGO was one of several human rights organizations Michael Meunien, president of the US Copts Association invited to join with the bereaved Garas family addressing misconceptions the press published.  

The Jubilee Campaign presented their NGO’s letter congratulating Alberto Gonzales on his confirmation as Attorney General in the United States Department of Justice. Jubilee urged Gonzales to take “a strong leadership role insisting the federal investigation into the Armanious murders be carried out professionally and thoroughly and by ensuring particulars of this case do not lead to policies or decisions on the part of the Justice Department that will have a chilling effect on religious expression in  our country.”  The Jubilee Campaign said “what may have been a hate crime stemming from a religious dispute” is of concern to their coalition because Armanious’ “expression of his religious views in an Internet chatroom may have contributed to his death and the deaths of his wife and daughters,” hastening to note “investigating authorities have as of yet drawn no conclusions” about the murders religious motivation, assuring if the allegations prove true “our concerns are obvious.”  

American Jewish Community legislative director and counsel, Richard T. Foltin, provided reporters copies of his NGO’s letter sent to Hudson County New Jersey’s Prosecutor, Edward J. De Fazio. Acknowledging facts determining the horrific murders a hate crime “are yet not known,” the AJC addressing the “heightened sense of fear in the Coptic community,” asked ethnic, religious and community groups to stand together and speak out against the intimidation inherent in such a crime. One reporter, present, identified himself as a Muslim. CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, despite having issued prior public statements on the murder was not present at the press conference.  

Michael Meunier founded the US Copts Association to raise awareness to the Copts plight within Egypt , seeking to educate the Coptic community of their “human rights, democracy and religious freedom” in the “Diaspora.” Meunier said a new organization was needed because Copts, “frustrated with existing Copts-Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant Coptic Advocacy Groups in the United States ,” sought “an attractive alternative” to voice concerns reflecting the changing needs of America ’s Coptic Community in the world. The Association says Copts are the largest Christian population in the Middle East . One hour earlier, Pat Robertson said, across the hall, Christians are the fastest growing group in the world.  

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