Father of boy accused of stabbing clerics saw no signs of extremism, says Muslim leader | World News


The father of a 16-year-old accused of stabbing two Christian clerics in Australia saw no signs of his son’s extremism, a Muslim community leader has said.

The boy spoke in Arabic about the Prophet Muhammad after he appeared to stab Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel and the Reverend Isaac Royel during a church service in Sydney on Monday, which was being streamed online.

Neither cleric suffered life-threatening injuries.

The boy, who was overpowered by the Orthodox Assyrian congregation, remains in an undisclosed hospital under police guard. He suffered severe hand wounds in the struggle.

After the incident, officials said around 600 people gathered outside Christ the Good Shepherd Church demanding revenge, throwing objects and preventing police from taking the teenager outside.

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Sydney bishop attacked during church service

Lebanese Muslim Association secretary Gamel Kheir, an advocate for Sydney’s largest Muslim community, said he spent two hours with the boy’s distraught father at the family home after the attack.

Mr Kheir told Australian Broadcasting Corp the father “was in shock”.

He added: “He was not aware of any signs of becoming more extreme other than the fact that he was becoming more disobedient to his father. But that was about it.

“He didn’t see any tell-tale signs, so to speak.”

The family of the boy have since left their home for fear of retaliation.

Mr Kheir is among several community leaders who have accused police of unnecessarily raising community tensions with a premature declaration the attack fitted the definition of a terrorist act under New South Wales state law.

“I’m concerned that we’ve rushed to a pre-judgment of a 16-year-old child,” he said.

“He used the language of religion, we’re not debating that at all. In a sense that he targeted another religion, that’s not debatable.

“What’s debatable is what mental state was this child in? Was he of a sane mind to even make such a rational call?

“All we’re saying is, surely there was time for the police to do a more thorough investigation and a review before they labelled it a terrorist act.”

New South Wales Police Commissioner Karen Webb stood by her declaration of a terrorist incident, saying she was “satisfied, based on the information that was provided”.

Of the rioting afterwards, she added: “Not all those people there were rioting against the police, but those people who were, they can expect to be identified and arrested and put before the courts.”

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The Lebanese Muslim Association runs Australia’s largest mosque in the Sydney suburb of Lakemba, where security has been increased.

Security has also been tightened at shopping centres around Australia after 40-year-old lone assailant Joel Cauchi stabbed six people to death at Sydney’s Westfield Bondi Junction mall on Saturday.

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