‘You are my son’; Sydney bishop forgives attacker


Mar Mari Emmanuel, bishop of Christ the Good Shepherd Church in Wakeley in Sydney, Australia, said on Thursday that he is on the road to recovery and that he forgives his attacker. Emmanuel was attacked by a teenage boy with a knife during a live-streamed service last week.

“You are my son,” Emmanuel said after the 16-year-old suspect stabbed him in the head and chest on Monday while he was delivering a sermon.

“I’m fine, I’m recovering very quickly,” he said.

The area is the center of Sydney’s small Christian-Assyrian community, many of whom have fled persecution and war in Iraq and Syria.

The church has almost 200,000 online followers and the bishop is often in the limelight, including for his criticism of Covid-19 vaccines, pandemic lockdowns and Islam.

“There is no cause for concern,” the bishop said in a YouTube video on Thursday.

“I forgive whoever committed this act and I say to him, ‘You are my son, I love you and I will always pray for you. And whoever sent you to do this, I forgive them too’.”

The suspect was taken to a Sydney hospital after the attack.

Family shocked

The bishop pleaded for calm after angry parishioners descended on the church after the incident in search of the attacker. They clashed with the police and threw stones and other objects at officers.

“You must always remain calm,” said the bishop.

“We must also always be law-abiding citizens. We have to abide by the police regulations, be it at the state or federal level,” he said.

“We must never forget that we are very blessed to be Aussies, but above all we are Christians and we must act as such.”

A doctor in western Sydney who is in contact with the young alleged attacker’s family told AFP they were in “shock” and “disbelief at the terrible act their son committed”.

The general practitioner, Jamal Rifi, said the family was also unnerved by how quickly the event was labeled as an act of “terror”, without even talking to the boy or his family.

The boy’s mother told Rifi that her son had anger and mental health issues.

Center where six die reopens

Meanwhile, a shopping center in Sydney where six people were killed earlier in a knife attack reopened its doors on Thursday so that people could pay tribute to the victims.

Shops in the Westfield center in Bondi Junction will only open their doors again on Friday, almost a week after a 40-year-old man killed six people at the center with a knife.

Thursday’s reopening offers residents the opportunity to mourn the loss and begin to come to terms with the incident.

It is also an opportunity to show solidarity and sympathy and start clean after a particularly difficult time for the city, said Chris Minns, premier of New South Wales.

According to Minns, this is the “first step towards healing”.