‘I forgive whoever has done this’: Bishop after attack

Statement from Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel

Source: Christ the Good Shepherd Church

A bishop who was stabbed during a live-streamed sermon has spoken for the first time after the alleged terror attack, saying he forgives his accused teenage assailant.

The attack on Assyrian church bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel took place at Christ the Good Shepherd Church at Wakeley, in western Sydney, on Monday night.

In an audio message released by the church on Thursday, the bishop said he was doing fine and recovering quickly, while calling on followers to obey the law after a riot broke out in the aftermath of the attack.

“I need you to act Christ-like, the lord Jesus never taught us to fight,” he said.

A 16-year-old has been arrested over the incident. He is yet to be charged and remains under police guard in hospital.

“I forgive whoever has done this act. I say to him, you’re my son, I love you, and I will always pray for you,” Bishop Emmanuel said.

“Whoever sent you to do this, I forgive them as well.”

Police have seized the boy’s devices and are investigating whether he could have become radicalised before the attack, which senior officers said appeared to have been religiously motivated.

Prominent Lebanese Muslim community leader Dr Jamal Rifi said the teenager’s mother did not believe he was radicalised online, adding that the 16-year-old regretted the incident.

“He kept on apologising to his mum and saying sorry and all that sort of thing,” Rifi told Sydney radio 2GB.

Meanwhile, Lebanese Muslim Association secretary Gamel Kheir said he had met the boy’s father, who was “distraught” and saw no warning signs.

“He would not go home. He was too scared to go home,” Kheir said.

“Did he see the signs? He said no.

“All he saw was a troublesome teenager who wasn’t listening to his father.

“You would never have seen a more humble, simple father than … the boys’ father.”

Police said on Wednesday the boy’s family had fled their home amid the intense interest and threats of reprisal attacks on Islamic religious centres after Monday’s stabbing.

Emmanuel’s call for calm also comes as other western Sydney religious leaders try to quell community tensions following the attack.

Police declared it a terrorist act because the teenager allegedly made comments in Arabic that referred to insults against “my prophet” before stabbing the bishop, who had previously publicly criticised Islam and other religions.

More law-enforcement resources have been directed to western Sydney and around places of worship following the attack.

A 19-year-old man has appeared in court, charged with riot, affray and destroying or damaging property in the riot outside the church.

Dani Mansour was arrested at a home in Doonside on Wednesday and appeared at Blacktown Local Court on Thursday supported by his mother, father and sister.

He was granted bail under strict conditions, including a curfew and house arrest.

Mansour allegedly filmed himself kicking two police cars during the riot and uploaded the footage to Instagram.

Dani Mansour speaks outside court

Source: AAP

Police said on Thursday that 51 police officers were injured during the disturbance.

“The sooner they are identified, put before the court, the sooner they can be dealt with,” NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb said.

“We have some people that have jumped on multiple police cars. One individual has a very distinctive tattoo on his torso of a face, while he has cowardly covered his own face, so we’re calling on the public to identify those people.”

She said Mansour was a local, but not a member of the parish.

Commissioner Webb said some people had rushed to the church just to participate in the riot.

“That is disgraceful and disgusting,” she said.

Webb said multiple police vehicles were still out of action after being damaged in the fracas.

“Which means people, police cannot respond to calls from the service from the community because of those vehicles being out of action. We will work to repair those as quickly as we can, but it is stopping us from doing our job,” she said.

“We need the community assistance to identify those people involved in that riot and come forward. The sooner they do that, the sooner we can get this on with. Until then, we will remain committed to this investigation for as long as it takes.”

As many as 50 people were wanted for questioning over the unrest, including several who disguised themselves that police were looking for public help to identify, Webb said.

More than 70 additional police officers have been deployed in Sydney’s west to conduct high-visibility patrols.

Another 32 officers have been assigned to investigate the riot, during which some of the crowd tried to gain access to the accused teenager while he was being held inside the church.

-with AAP

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