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Christian funeral planned for Arab-American slain in alleged hate crime

St. Antony Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church in Tulsa.

(RNS) The pastor of an Orthodox Christian church in Tulsa, Okla., said the funeral this week for a slain Lebanese-American member of his flock will focus on faith and avoid politics.

The Rev. George Eber of St. Antony Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church told the Tulsa World that the service for Khalid Jabara will be a traditional and typical one for the denomination: long, with chanting, readings from Scripture and brief words from him on the life of the deceased.

The Rev. George Eber, of St. Antony Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church. Photo courtesy of St. Antony Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church in Tulsa

Photo courtesy of St. Antony Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church

The Rev. George Eber, of St. Antony Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church. Photo courtesy of St. Antony Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church in Tulsa, Okla.

“We will avoid all politics,” Eber told the newspaper. “We will keep demonstrators off of our property.

“The funeral is important,” he continued, “to address, ‘Where was God?’ and ‘Where does evil come from?’”

Beyond the church, which will be patrolled by off-duty police hired by the congregation, outrage swirls around the death of the 37-year-old Arab Christian, who was raised in St. Antony’s.

His family says his killing on Aug. 12 was a hate crime, and that the man accused in the case — Stanley Vernon Majors — had violently harassed the family for years. At the time of the slaying, Majors was already facing charges that he tried to run over Jabara’s mother with a car last year; that trial is slated for 2017.

The family faults police for failing to protect Khalid Jabara, in light of his 911 call and Majors’ history of intimidation — which they say he cast in racial and religious terms, taunting his neighbors as “Aye-rab” and “Mooslem.”

Soon after Khalid’s death, #justice4khalid began trending on Twitter.


READ: Man voiced hatred for Muslims, Arabs before killing, victim’s family says


In addition to many on social media, civil rights groups, including the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, have decried Jabara’s death. Some have pointed fingers at Donald Trump’s presidential campaign for fanning anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim prejudices.

Many people, Eber told the Tulsa World, mistakenly associate Arabs only with Islam. A significant minority of Arabs in the Middle East, the U.S. and elsewhere are Orthodox Christians.

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About the author

Lauren Markoe

Lauren Markoe has been a national reporter for RNS since 2011. Previously she covered government and politics as a daily reporter at the Charlotte Observer and The State (Columbia, S.C.)

4 Comments

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  • I think the pastor of the victim’s church is very wise. Now is the time to mourn Khalid’s death, and yet rejoice in his commitment to the Christian faith, not to intrude on or engage in arguments over national politics or policy. Not Today.

  • “Some have pointed fingers at Donald Trump’s presidential campaign for fanning anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim prejudices.”

    Yes, trump has deliberately done so. Still, as Edward said, the pastor is doing the right thing by this funeral.

    This case brings up one of the greatest struggles of American law that typically occurs in domestic violence cases. The man threatens the woman’s and/or children’s lives, but the law provides for nothing more than restraining orders, which are only paper the murderer can walk through. That’s why the biggest killer of American women, perhaps women worldwide, is a male with a relationship to her.

    I’m not sure what legal changes can be made while not violating the Constitution, but the current situation, as revealed in this murder, was foreseeable.

  • If God set the universe into motion, as I believe, then so-called “evil” is part of the picture and God is right there with us, holding our hand. It is up to us to make decisions which keep ourselves safe and to reject evil.

  • No argument, except that Khalid and his family took the proper path in appealing to the authorities… in vain. Some argue that keeping himself safe would have required him to carry a firearm for self defense. For others such a decision would potentially invite evil. None of us, obviously can game plan perfectly for the evil that may come upon us .

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