Teenager charged with ‘terrorism’ over Australia church stabbing attack

Boy was arrested at the scene after Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel was attacked during a service in Sydney.

A 16-year-old Australian boy has been charged with “committing a terrorist act”, police said, over the stabbing of an Assyrian church bishop in western Sydney during a livestreamed service.

The teenage suspect was taken to hospital following the attack on Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel and was charged in the children’s court on Friday morning.

He did not appear in court and his lawyer did not ask for bail, according to Australia’s public service broadcaster ABC.

Police charged the teenager after a search of electronic devices at his home and an interview at his hospital bed. He faces a life sentence, if found guilty.

Defence lawyer Greg Scragg told the court that arrangements were being made for a forensic psychologist to visit the boy in hospital and “assess him for treatment and in relation to his fitness”.

He added that the boy had “a long history of behaviour consistent with suffering from a mental illness and or mental condition and or mental disorder,” ABC reported.

Police say the suspect travelled for about 90 minutes to reach the Christ The Good Shepherd Church in the western Sydney suburb of Wakeley where he stabbed Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel about six times.

The attack triggered a riot with an angry crowd of the bishop’s followers demanding the suspected attacker be handed over to them.

Having arrested the teenager at the scene, police were forced to hold him at the church for his own safety.

The crowd went on to clash with the police for more than three hours. More than 50 police officers were injured and 20 police cars were damaged.

Investigations into the riot are continuing.

Bishop Emmanuel, 53, has a popular youth following on TikTok and has been a target of criticism, hate and online trolling. His sermons range from homilies on the Bible to fiery criticisms of homosexuality, COVID-19 vaccinations, Islam and the election of US President Joe Biden.

In an audio message on social media on Thursday, he said he had forgiven his attacker and that he was recovering quickly.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies