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Two Attacks, Two Groups, One City – Australian Capital Sydney Shaken by Murderous Aggression

15 year-old boy storms an Orthodox Assyrian church and stabs the bishop – Followers riot against the “terrorist act”:

Monday night, protesting mobs clashed with the police in hundreds in western Sydney. The issue at hand is a particularly violent livestream from the evening sermon of the very same day. The graphic video was streamed from Christ The Good Shepherd Church, more significantly, an Orthodox Assyrian church in the capital of Australia, where about half of the population identify as Roman Catholic. The small group is comprised of immigrants, many of whom have fled persecution and war in Iraq and Syria. The bishop holds a significant following online, where he frequently live streams his sermons and shares video clips. This time during service; however, an assailant emerged from the crowd with a knife in hand and attacked the speaker on stage, Assyrian Orthodox Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel.

At least four people were injured in the brawl inside. Nonetheless, all, including Bishop Emmanuel, are expected to make a fast recovery.

The assailant has since been identified as a 15 year-old boy – his name has not yet been released to the public.

The teen aggressor was pinned down promptly by the police, but was not removed from the premises for his own safety while an angry mob gathered outside the church, reportedly hurling projectiles before police. The human blockade lasted for more than three hours as the bishop’s enraged followers demanded that the assailant be handed over. Following the altercation outside the church, emergency personnel reported treating about thirty persons, seven of whom were transported to nearby hospitals with injuries. Around 20 police cars were destroyed and a number of officers were admitted to the hospital with injuries.

New South Wales Police Commissioner Karen Webb commented on Tuesday that the suspect's remarks suggested a extremist religious motivation for the murderous assault.

“We’ll allege there’s a degree of premeditation on the basis that this person has travelled to that location, which is not near his residential address, he has travelled with a knife and subsequently the bishop and the priest have been stabbed,” Webb exclaimed to reporters during a press conference. “They’re lucky to be alive.”

“After consideration of all the material, I declared that it was a terrorist incident.”

A counterterrorism task team including state police, the Australian Federal Police, and the primary domestic spy agency of Australia, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), has been formed to look into potential involvement by other hostile parties.

Nevertheless, the chief director of Australia's security agency Mike Burgess remarked that there was no immediate need to increase the terror threat level in the nation since the suspect seemed to have acted alone. The chief of ASIO proclaimed "At this point, there is no indication of anyone else involved, but that remains an open investigation."

In a social media post, the church stated that the bishop and priest were in stable condition and requested prayers for their recovery.

It went on, "The father and bishop ask that you pray for the offender as well."

The message seemingly came too late as the riots had already died down and the police investigation initiated.

"People simply showed up to take part in a riot. Commissioner Webb stated during a news briefing that "that is disgusting and disgraceful."

Australia mourns victims of Sydney shopping center stabbing rampage

Australia had already been shaken with grief two days before, on Saturday, after a rampage full of panic and terror. 6 people were fatally stabbed by a violent man with an opulent grey, red and yellow dragon tattoo up his right arm, five women and a “courageous” Pakistani security guard, during a busy hour at the Westfield shopping center in Bondi Junction, Sydney’s normally serene beach suburbia.

The horrendous assault injured twelve more people, including a nine-month-old child whose mother, Ashlee Good, was stabbed to death. Health Minister Ryan Park of New South Wales disclosed that eight patients, whose situations ranged from critical to stable, were still in the hospital on Monday. Four of the patients had been released in the previous day.

The assailant was identified to be 40 year-old Joel Cauchi. Only after Cauchi was shot dead on the spot by an officer who had followed him all by himself through the mall did the stabbing rampage come to a stop.

Although the motive of the attacker is still unknown, New South Wales Police Commissioner Karen Webb, who was preoccupied with the Assyrian church stabbing at the time, told reporters last Monday that the fact that the assailant seemed to be targeting women is "certainly a line of inquiry for us." What seems to be certain; however, is that the suspect was not in a bright mental space. “We know that the offender in the matter suffered from, suffers from, mental health,” Assistant Commissioner Anthony Cooke had stated on Saturday, shortly after the assault.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of Australia announced in a statement that Faraz Tahir, 30, a security guard who had recently immigrated to Australia from persecution in Pakistan, was also murdered in the incident "while defending others."

Still, the heroism of the Muslim martyr did not stop the spread of false accusations. Within minutes of the event, false rumors targeting Muslim, more specifically, Palestinian, immigrants started circulating on online platforms. The headline “Was this a terrorist attack? Question all of Australia is asking” and its likes quickly emerged on Sunday night.

Soon, a “story about the perpetrator being a different person with a Jewish name” also started spreading simultaneously, Australian Muslim Advocacy Network (AMAN) stated. Sarah Schwartz from the Jewish Council of Australia said “right-wing Islamophobic groups” had “[exploited] this tragedy to push their hateful agenda”.

“We must not allow this tragedy to be exploited for political gain or to stoke Islamophobia or anti-Semitism.”

The possibility that the perpetrator was motivated by extremist Christian ideology was also ruled out by the police department. Last year, a “religiously motivated” American man had also murdered 6 people in Queensland, where assailant Joel Cauchi was from.

Currently, the most plausible motivation behind the murders seems to be the initial claim by the police commission that the attacks targeted women. In response to a question about how his son might have targeted women, Cauchi's father explained that his son had "wanted a girlfriend" had "no social skills and was frustrated out of his brain."

Numerous online communities devoted to the incel subculture—a group of people, overwhelmingly male, who identify as not being able to obtain a partner while wanting one—have commended Cauchi for the attack as one of their own.

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