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More arrests in connection with Aussie bishop’s stabbing



John Burger - published on 04/26/24

Counter-terrorism forces raid 13 homes in Sydney, say that a further attack was possible.

Australian police have arrested and charged five teenage boys in connection with the April 15 stabbing of a bishop and a priest in Sydney.

The police action was in addition to the arrest of a 16-year-old boy who allegedly stabbed Mar Mari Emmanuel and one of his associate priests at Christ the Good Shepherd church in the Sydney suburb of Wakely. (“Mar” is a title meaning “bishop” in some Eastern traditions.)

So far, police have not revealed the name of the attacker or his motive but have said they were treating the case as terrorism-related.

Law enforcement authorities said on Thursday that they charged the five new arrestees with terrorism-related offenses, Reuters reported.

“Police said they were associates of a 16-year-old boy previously charged in the knifing,” said the wire service. “The latest charges included possessing violent extremist material, conspiring to prepare for a terrorist act and carrying a knife in public, New South Wales police said.”

Counterterrorism police raided 13 properties in southwestern Sydney because they believed the teens posed an “unacceptable risk to the public,” the Australian broadcasting company ABC reported

“Their behavior led us to believe that if they were to commit any act we would not be able to prevent that, and we believed, through the investigation, that an attack might ensue,” said New South Wales Police Deputy Commissioner David Hudson. 

Bishop Emmanuel, 53, and a priest at the church, Fr. Isaac Royel, were treated for knife wounds in hospital. Several people who tried to intervene in the attack also were injured. Bishop Emmanuel issued an audio statement soon after the incident, saying he forgives the attacker. 

Keep stabbing video online

In a new statement on Wednesday, Emmanuel, who has a large following on social media, reiterated his forgiveness for the attacker “and whoever was behind this.”

He also weighed in on a related case, in which the Australian government has been trying to get X, the social media platform, to take down video of the stabbing. The incident had been live-streamed during one of the bishop’s weekly Bible studies. It does not appear to be on Christ the Good Shepherd’s YouTube channel any longer. 

Emmanuel said he acknowledges the government’s desire to have the videos removed because of their graphic nature but was “not opposed to the videos remaining on social media.”

“It would be of great concern if people use the attack on me to serve their own political interests to control free speech,” he said.

X lawyer Marcus Hoyne told Australia’s Federal Court that Mar Emmanuel was “strongly of the view” that the footage should stay online, ABC said in a separate report. Hoyne said the bishop had provided an affidavit to that effect, which he submitted to the court. 

ABC explained that the eSafety commissioner has the power to demand the removal of so-called “class 1 material.”

“That includes depictions of violent crime, child sex offenses, or other ‘revolting or abhorrent phenomena [that] offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults,’” the news outlet said.

It continued:

X’s resistance has honed in on the question of whether those orders apply to content anywhere in the world, or simply to content visible to Australian users.

X argued it was sufficient to “geo-block” the URLs, hiding them from Australian users specifically. But lawyers for eSafety argued this could be too easily circumvented by Australians using a Virtual Private Network (VPN), which obscures geographical location, and so global action was required.

But X owner Elon Musk argued this could have broader implications, allowing “any country [to] control the entire internet.”

Iraq native

Bishop Emmanuel is a native of Iraq who grew up in Sydney and was ordained a bishop in the Ancient Church of the East. He now is apparently independent of any Church hierarchy. He leads a congregation made up largely of Christians from the Middle East.

In the video statement on Wednesday, he called himself a “proud Aussie” and reminded followers that the next day was Anzac Day, which commemorates fallen warriors from Australia and New Zealand. Those soldiers, Emmanuel said, gave their lives to preserve freedom of speech and religion.

BishopsChristians in the Middle EastTerrorism
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