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NJ Coptic Christians To Hold Prayer Service For Beheading Victims In Libya

JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- Coptic Christians in New Jersey are planning a prayer service this week for the 21 members of their faith purportedly beheaded by Islamic State extremists in Libya.

As WCBS 880's Jim Smith reported, the religion has a large population in Jersey City, where Coptic Christians are calling the 21 victims "martyrs."

"They were killed in this instance specifically because they were Christians," said Joseph Ghabour with the Coptic Orthodox Church of St. Mark in Jersey City.

NJ Coptic Christians Plan Prayer Service For Libya Beheading Victims

Ghabour said the religion has been persecuted for thousands of years and worshippers are unsure of where it will be targeted next.

"The fear that it could come to the United States to New Jersey is always there," he said.

On Sunday, a faction calling itself the Tripoli Province of the Islamic State released video of the mass beheading of a group of Egyptian Coptic Christians.

Ghabour said the killings in Libya have brought a sense of sadness in the local community.

The prayer service with be held Thursday night at St. Mary Coptic Orthodox Church in East Brunswick. Hundreds of Coptic Christians from the Tri-State area are expected to attend to pray for the families of the victims.

"It's heartbreaking," Ghabour said. "They need comfort, and only God can provide that comfort.

"We're asking to give the families of the martyrs strength, and we're asking that God forgives those who perpetrated this against us."

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