Wakeley church attack: Alleged stabbing of bishop believed to religiously motivated

Dan Jervis-Bardy
The Nightly
2 Min Read
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will convene a meeting of his national security committee.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will convene a meeting of his national security committee. Credit: Darren England/AAPImage

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has declared there is “no place for violent extremism” in Australia after the stabbing of a prominent church bishop in western Sydney.

A counterterrorism team involving NSW and Federal agencies has been set up to investigate the circumstances surrounding the alleged terror attack on Orthodox Christian bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel on Monday night.

A 16-year-old boy allegedly stabbed the bishop while he was delivering a sermon at Good Shepherd Church in Sydney’s western suburbs, before he was restrained by members of the public and arrested by police.

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ASIO director general Mike Burgess said the attack was believed to be religiously motivated but the agency’s inquiries were ongoing.

Mr Burgess would not reveal what authorities knew about the teenager or respond to speculation he was radicalised online.

“What I did say however, though, I support New South Wales Police in calling this a terrorist incident. We believe it is religiously motivated,” he told reporters at a press conference in Canberra alongside Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and AFP chief Reece Kershaw.

Mr Albanese convened a meeting of his national security committee on Tuesday after NSW declared the alleged attack a terrorist incident overnight.

“This is a disturbing incident,” he said.

“There is no place for violence in our community. There is no place for violent extremism. We are a peace-loving nation.

“This is a time to unite, not divide, as a community and as a country.”

Mr Albanese said he understood that people were feeling “uneasy”, with the chuck attack occurring just two days after six people were murdered in the Bondi Junction stabbing rampage.

Police were forced to hold the teenager inside the church on Monday night as protesters rioted outside the scene, demanding he be released.

One police officer’s jaw was broken as protesters turned on authorities.

“It is not acceptable to impede and injure police doing their duty, or to damage police vehicles in a way that we saw last night,” Mr Albanese said.

“People should not take the law into their own hands, but should allow our police and our security agencies to do their job.”

Commissioner Kershaw said the attacks on police were “disgraceful”.

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