Updated April 19th, 2024 at 19:34 IST

Australia: Boy who Stabbed Bishop in Sydney Now Charged with Terrorism

Australian police authorities have said that the actions of the 16-year-old boy fit the definition of a terrorist act as defined under Commonwealth law.

Reported by: Digital Desk
Christ the Good Shepherd church in Sydney where Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel was stabbed by a 16-year-old boy earlier this week. | Image:AP
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Sydney: A 16-year-old boy who stabbed a bishop in a Sydney church earlier this week has been charged with terrorism, Reuters reported. Australian Federal Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw said that while the investigation is “complex and remains ongoing”, the 16-year-old boy has been charged with a Commonwealth terrorist offence, the maximum punishment for which is life in prison. He added that the boy has been denied bail and is “expected to appear before a bedside court hearing today.”

Kershaw said that a team of investigators from the Joint Counter Terrorism Team had searched the teen's house and uncovered several pieces of evidence, following which the investigators are seeking to speak to the boy after ‘appropriate medical clearance’. 

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Furthermore, he emphasised that even as the investigation continues, the authorities allege that the act carried out by the boy meets the definition of a terrorist act as set out under Commonwealth law. He concluded by saying that the terrorist threat level in Australia remains unchanged at ‘possible’ and that all Australians should remain vigilant. 

It may be recalled that the 16-year-old boy in question had attacked Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel in a Sydney church on Monday during a church service. He reportedly stabbed the bishop several times before being restrained by the attending crowd. As he was held down, the boy shouted multiple times that Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel had insulted Islam. During the attack, several other people, including Reverend Isaac Royel, were also injured. 

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The bishop has since recovered and put out an audio statement on Thursday saying that he was “recovering quickly” and that he forgave his attacker and “whoever sent you to do this.” Jamal Rifi, a Muslim community leader told Sydney Radio 2GB that the boy's family had told him that he showed no signs of radicalisation before the attack. 

Concerns over retaliatory attacks 

Following the attack on the bishop, a mob of thousands had assembled outside the church, demanding justice and clashing with the police. While the situation stabilised, the Lakemba mosque received a bomb threat just a few hours later, presumably in retaliation against the attack. While the threat did not ultimately materialise, Gamel Kheir, secretary of the Lebanese Muslim Association that oversees three mosques including Lakemba, told Reuters that concerns over reprisals remain. 

“Our real fear is one of targeting women who are identifiable through their head scarves walking through the streets or shopping centres. At the moment they're scared to do that,” said Lakemba.

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Published April 19th, 2024 at 19:34 IST