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Sydney church stabbing a ‘terrorist’ attack say police as Facebook and X ordered to remove footage – live

Emergency services respond after multiple people stabbed at Sydney shopping centre

The attack on a bishop at a church in Sydney on Monday has been declared as an act of terrorism by police, as social media giants Facebook and X have been ordered to remove footage.

At least four people were injured in the attack, including Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel, during a service at the Christ The Good Shepherd Church in the suburb of Wakeley in the west of the city.

A 15-year-old boy was arrested during the event, which triggered clashes between members of the public and police outside the church.

On Tuesday, New South Wales Police Commissioner Karen Webb declared the church attack a terrorist incident. The declaration gives police expanded powers to stop and search people, premises and vehicles without a warrant.

Footage of the attack, taken from a live broadcast from the church’s YouTube channel, has since been shared over social media platforms such as Facebook and X/Twitter.

It has led to Australia’s eSafety commissioner, Julie Inman Grant, serving 24-hour notices to the companies in charge to remove the material, she described as “extreme and gratuitous violent”.

The attack came days after six people were killed in a stabbing rampage by Joel Cauchi at Westfield Bondi Junction shopping centre on Saturday. The 40-year-old, who was shot dead, also injured 12 others, including a including a nine-month old baby.

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‘It does appear to be religiously motivated’

Following Monday’s attack on a Bishop Mar Mari Emmanue at Christ The Good Shepherd Church in Sydney, the Australian Security Intelligence Organization, the nation’s main domestic spy agency, and Australian Federal Police have joined state police in a counter-terrorism task force to investgate who else could be involved.

ASIO director-general Mike Burgess said the investigation had yet to uncover any associated threats.

“It does appear to be religiously motivated, but we continue our lines of investigation,” Burgess said.

“Our job is to look at individuals connected with the attacker to assure ourselves that there is no-one else in the community with similar intent. At this stage, we have no indications of that,” Burgess added.

On ASIO’s advice, the risk of a terrorist attack in Australia is rated at “possible.” That is the second lowest level after “not expected” on the five-tier National Terrorism Threat Advisory System.

Alex Ross16 April 2024 11:30

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Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel ‘a TikTok star’

Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel who was stabbed during a church service live streamed from Sydney on Monday is a social media star with followers around the world, but the bearded clergyman is also a divisive preacher.

Dressed in dark robes, clutching a large cross and sporting a bushy grey beard under a black cowl, Emmanuel’s sermons from the Assyrian Christ The Good Shepherd Church range from homilies on the Bible to fiery criticisms of homosexuality, vaccinations, Islam and US President Joe Biden’s election.

The 53-year-old bishop, who has a popular youth following on TikTok and was awarded by YouTube in 2023 for hitting 100,000 subscribers, has however been a target for criticism, hate and online trolling.

Emmanuel’s popularity peaked during the COVID pandemic because his sermons were online, according to Mary Anoya, 17, whose family attends his church. She, like the other students at her high school, prefer to watch his sermons on TikTok.

“I think everyone follows him on TikTok,” said the teenager on Tuesday outside the church.

“Ever since he started to become famous his words just got twisted. I grew up knowing who he was, I know what type of person he is and it’s all just taken out of context.”

Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel was attacked while delivering a sermon at his church in Sydney (Christ The Good Shepherd Church/Youtube)

Alex Ross16 April 2024 11:07

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Facebook and X given 24 hours to remove footage of church stabbing

Footage of the stabbing of Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel at Christ The Good Shepherd Church in Sydney shocked the world as it was broadcast live by the church’s YouTube channel.

Clips have since been shared across social media platforms X and Facebook, which has led to Australia’s eSafety commissioner, Julie Inman Grant, issuing a 24-hour notice for the companies in charge to remove them.

She said that the footage had been deemed to be “material depicting gratuitous or offensive violence with a high degree of impact or detail”.

If Meta, which controls Facebook, and X don’t comply, the companies could face fines, Ms Inman Grant warned.

She said: “While the majority of mainstream social media platforms have engaged with us, I am not satisfied enough is being done to protect Australians from this most extreme and gratuitous violent material circulating online.

“That is why I am exercising my powers under the Online Safety Act to formally compel them to remove it. I have issued a notice to X requiring them to remove this content. A legal notice will also be sent to Meta this afternoon, and further notices are likely to follow. I will not hesitate to use further graduated powers at my disposal if there is noncompliance.”

Alex Ross16 April 2024 10:17

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‘You are welcome here, you are welcome to stay for as long as you like’

Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese has praised the Frenchman who confronted Bondi Junction attacker Joel Cauchi for his “extraordinary bravery” and said he could stay in the country for as long as he wanted.

Damien Guerot, a French construction worker, has been dubbed by some as the “Bollard Man” after CCTV footage showed him confronting Cauchi with a bollard on an escalator during the deadly stabbing attack in Westfield Bondi Junction.

Six people were killed in the attack and 12 injured before Cauchi was shot dead by a police officer.

Mr Albanese told reporters in Canberra: “I say this to Damien Guerot – who is dealing with his visa applications – that you are welcome here, you are welcome to stay for as long as you like.

Alex Ross16 April 2024 09:40

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Arrested teenager’s hand injuries ‘severe’

A 15-year-old boy arrested following the stabbing of a bishop at a church service in Sydney on Monday has suffered “severe” hand injuries, police have confirmed.

Footage streamed online of the service at the Christ The Good Shepherd Church in the suburb of Wakeley showed a person walking up to the altar before appearing to attack Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel.

They were then overpowered by worshippers who rushed to the bishop’s aid.

It has since emerged that the teen suspect in the attack was taken to hospital.

Acting Assistant Police Commissioner Andrew Holland commended the congregation for stepping in during the incident before calling police. When asked if the accused teen’s fingers had been severed, he said the hand injuries were “severe”.

Alex Ross16 April 2024 09:21

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A city in pain following two stabbing attacks – in pictures

Flowers laid outside the Christ The Good Shepherd Church after the bishop was stabbed duirng a service on Monday (REUTERS)
Flowers laid outside Westfield Bondi Junction shopping centre after Saturday’s attack (EPA)
A woman takes a moment to remember those who died in the shopping centre attack (Getty Images)

Alex Ross16 April 2024 09:05

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What are law enforcement powers when investigating terrorism

The terrorism categorisation allows more law enforcement resources to be focused on the crime. The declaration also gives police expanded powers to stop and search people, premises and vehicles without a warrant.

New South Wales Police Commissioner Karen Webb said the teen’s comments and actions pointed to a religious motive for the attack. She didn’t detail the wording of the comments that led her to believe he had been religiously motivated.

A police officer lifts tape to let a car into the Christ the Good Shepherd Church in Sydney’s western suburb of Wakeley on 16 April 2024 (AFP via Getty Images)

“We believe there are elements that are satisfied in terms of religious-motivated extremism and of course the intimidation of the public through that person’s acts, by attending that church, whilst it was being live-streamed, intimidating not only the parishioners in attendance but those parishioners who were watching online and subsequently, those people that turned up to the church on the outside and the subsequent riot that happened,” Ms Webb said.

The Australian Security Intelligence Organization, the nation’s main domestic spy agency, and Australian Federal Police have joined state police in a counterterrorism task force to investigate who else was potentially involved.

Namita Singh16 April 2024 08:12

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Bishop’s health condition ‘improving’

The church said in a statement today the 53-year-old Iraq-born bishop’s condition was “improving”.

Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel has a strong social media following and is outspoken on a range of issues. He proselytises to both Jews and Muslims and is critical of liberal Christian denominations.

He also speaks out on global political issues and laments the plight of Palestinians in Gaza.

The bishop, described in local media as a figure sometimes seen as divisive on issues such as Covid-19 restrictions, was in national news last year with comments about gender.

Namita Singh16 April 2024 07:30

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Sydney church knife attack against bishop and priest are acts of terrorism, police say

While one task force will look into the background of the attacker, the other will work to identify those in the rioting mob that attacked a number of police officers and paramedics responding to the scene, reported News.com.au.

Namita Singh16 April 2024 07:05

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Letters: Better mental health support could help avoid tragedies like Sydney

Holly Evans16 April 2024 07:00


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