‘No place’ for extremism after church stabbing: PM

PM on church terror attack

Source: X/Anthony Albanese

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has declared there is “no place” for extremism in Australia following a stabbing at a Sydney church.

A 16-year-old boy is in custody after the Monday night attack at Christ the Good Shepherd Church in Wakeley, where Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel was stabbed during a live-streamed sermon.

The attack has been declared a terrorist incident because of the suspected religious motivation.

It emerged on Tuesday afternoon the teenager was placed on a good behaviour bond after facing court for a knife crime just three months ago.

The ABC, which did not name the boy, said he was charged with a range of offences, including possessing a knife, in November after an incident at a Sydney train station involving other teenage boys.

“This is a disturbing incident. There is no place for violence in our community. There’s no place for violent extremism,” Albanese said in Canberra on Tuesday.

“We’re a peace-loving nation. This is a time to unite, not divide, as a community and as a country.”

Following the attack, the national security committee met on Tuesday with a joint counter-terrorism taskforce set up with federal police and ASIO.

The attack led to violence on the street near the Assyrian church, where hundreds of people gathered and scores of police tried to disperse the crowd during which officers were injured and vehicles were damaged.

As the crowd expanded, police and paramedics had to take shelter inside the church for hours after their attempt to extract the injured alleged attacker.

Bricks, concrete and fence palings were used to attack police and damage equipment, injuring officers and rendering vehicles unusable.

Albanese denounced the violence.

“We understand the distress and concerns that are there in the community, particularly after the tragic event at Bondi Junction on Saturday,” he said.

“But it’s not acceptable to impede and injure police doing their duty, or to damage police vehicles in a way that we saw last night.

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

NSW Premier on church attack

Source: X/Chris Minns

NSW Premier Chris Minns said faith leaders across western Sydney were denouncing the violence to quell any potential retaliatory attacks.

“Their message to their communities was universal and identical, and that is that they deplore violence in all forms … and most importantly, that people remain calm during this obviously distressing period,” he said.

More police could be deployed in response to the “obviously combustible situation”, Minns said.

“But our hope is that it doesn’t come to that, and that common sense prevails, the community remains calm, and we let police get on with the job of investigating a major, major terrorism investigation.”

Opposition Leader Mark Speakman supported the call for calm.

“The scenes we saw last night have no place in NSW,” he said.

NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb said on Tuesday a separate strike force had been formed to investigate the riot. It will run in conjunction with a probe into the stabbings.

“We will find you and we will prosecute you,” she said.

Australian Federal Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw said the violence was “un-Australian”.

“It’s a disgraceful act from [members of] the community who attacked police at the scene,” he said. “It was unAustralian.”

Emmanuel, 53, was stabbed in the head in Monday’s attack. He and a priest, identified as Father Isaac Royel by the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher, were taken to Liverpool Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Fisher said the twin stabbings were “shocking and has caused distress to many in the community”.

“Every person in this country, be they bishop or priest, rabbi or imam, minister or congregant, should be able to worship in safety, without fear that they might be subject to acts of violence while gathering in prayer,” he said.

“I urge the faithful to not respond to these events with fear, avoiding places of worship because they are worried about further attacks, nor with anger, engaging in acts of reprisal or revenge. The best response to violence and fear is prayer and peace.”

-with AAP

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