Religious leaders call for calm after Assyrian Christian bishop stabbed in Sydney

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Religious and political leaders have called for “calm” across Sydney after wild scenes and a mob mentality followed an attack on a popular Assyrian Christian leader on Monday night.

Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel and another clergyman were stabbed by a 15-year-old teenager as he delivered a live-streamed mass at the Christ The Good Shepherd Church in Wakeley just after 7pm on Monday.

Acting Assistant Commissioner Andrew Holland said the teen was known to police and was not a member of the congregation, but the incident, which he described as “rash,” had left him with serious injuries of his own.

The 53-year-old bishop was found with lacerations to his head. A 39-year-old man also sustained cuts and a shoulder wound while attempting to intervene, NSW Police said.

Assistant Commissioner Holland said the 15-year-old alleged attacker was detained and held down by members of the church. 

Police arrested the teen at the scene but were forced to barricade themselves inside the church for several hours “for his safety,” Comm Holland said, as video of the incident spread and thousands gathered outside the church.

mob grew outside the church
A mob grew outside the church after the attack.

Up to 100 police officers were then called to the scene. At least two police were injured as they clashed with members outside the church.

Police were finally able to remove the teen from the church late on Monday, before taking him to an undisclosed hospital for treatment, where he remains under police guard.

Following the attack, NSW Premier Chris Minns received a briefing from NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb, before convening a snap meeting with religious leaders at 10:30pm. Attendees included leaders from the Maronite, Lebanese, Assyrian and Islamic communities, as well as the NSW Minister for Multiculturalism, Steve Kamper MP, and the CEO of Multicultural NSW, Joseph La Posta.

All of the community and faith leaders endorsed and supported a unanimous condemnation of violence in any form, called for the community to follow first responder and police instructions and called for calm in the community.

“We’re calling on everyone to act with kindness and respect for each other,” Premier Minns said in a statement. “Now is the time to show that we are strong and united as a NSW community.”

NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb declared the incident a “terrorist act” this morning.

The pleas came as Sydney was already on tenterhooks following the Bondi Junction stabbing attack on Saturday, which saw seven people killed, including the attacker.

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