Bishop Mari Mari Emmanuel, worshippers stabbed; NSW Police arrest man



The police helicopter circled overhead and relayed the message: “All persons, please leave the area immediately.”

A number of projectiles were fired at police throughout the night and footage shows several NSW Police vehicles with broken windows and damaged panels.

One officer was hit with a metal object and suffered a knee injury and a chipped tooth, while another officer suffered a broken jaw after being hit with a brick and a fence post, the police. They were taken to hospital for treatment.

A police officer, who could not be identified for security reasons, told him Herald: “The crowd was attacking us, throwing things and being aggressive while we were trying to help their bishop. I told them, “We are not your enemies.”

The church said Bishop Emmanuel and a senior priest were in a stable condition and called for calm.

“We ask for your prayers at this time,” the church said in a statement posted on social media.

“We also kindly ask anyone in the church to leave in peace, as our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ teaches us.”

The stabbed bishop is the leader of an ultra-conservative sect of the Assyrian Orthodox faith that took an outsized role in the Christian Lives Matter movement.

He preached fire and brimstone in services that were broadcast live and attracted hardline Christians for his anti-LGBTQ sermons and pandemic skepticism.

Fairfield Deputy Mayor Charnel Saliba was not present at the church, but said witnesses had told him that after the bishop was stabbed, the religious leader “put his hand on the assailant and went start praying.”

The identity of the offender is unknown, but police said the man had been taken to an “undisclosed location” after his arrest.

Scene of the stabbing at a church in Wakeley.Credit: Walter Peeters

Minns urges the community to remain calm

NSW Premier Chris Minns said the scenes were “disturbing”.

“I have received an update from the NSW Health and Police Commissioner about the situation,” he said.

“My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and the first responders working to keep us safe.

“It is important for the community to remain calm and continue to listen and act on the directions of the police and emergency services.

“We are a strong community in NSW and it's important that we all stick together, especially in the face of adversity.”

The Police Association NSW (PANSW) confirmed that officers had been injured by projectiles fired at officers.

“PANSW field organizers have been withdrawn and are now supporting injured members in hospitals and police stations while this event unfolds,” he said.

Political and religious leaders respond

Federal MP for Fowler Dai Le, whose south-west Sydney electorate includes Christ The Good Shepherd Church, said her community was shocked by the stabbing, particularly as it came just two days after the Westfield Bondi Junction mass stabbings.

“This has surprised us,” he said.

He described Emmanuel as a “wonderful bishop at the head of the Assyrian community.”

Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel preaching in his church.

Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel preaching in his church.

“It's increased their following tremendously,” he said.

Fowler has one of the largest Assyrian communities in the country, including many members who fled war-torn Iraq for a safer life in Australia.

“We have one of the most multi-faith communities in the country,” he said. “I don't think we're divided on that.”

The National Council of Imams of Australia said so and the Australian Muslim community “unequivocally condemns” the attack on the bishop.

Police are out in force to quell growing crowds in Wakeley following the stabbing.

Police are out in force to quell growing crowds in Wakeley following the stabbing.Credit: Walter Peeters

“These attacks are appalling and have no place in Australia, particularly at places of worship and against religious leaders,” the organization said in a statement.

“We urge the community to remain calm and work together to ensure the safety of Australians.”

Faith NSW chief executive Murray Norman said an attack on one faith was an attack on all and faith communities stood together against hate and violence.

Riot police arrived on Monday night.

Riot police arrived on Monday night.Credit: Walter Peeters

“During a week of mourning in which we have seen the worst of humanity on display, this is another reminder that we must all do more to eliminate this vile behavior from our state,” he said.

“Incidents like these will only strengthen our resolve and we will emerge stronger and more united.”

with AAP

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