Anthony Albanese calls for peace after Christ The Good Shepherd attack


Law enforcement agencies have not yet revealed the teenager’s religious background, name, or previous interactions with authorities. He was not on a terrorism watch list and police believe he was acting alone.

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NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb, speaking in Sydney, said there was evident “premeditation” and an attempt to intimidate members of the church, especially by committing it during a livestreamed service.

Webb also pointed to comments “around religion” made by the accused before allegedly stabbing the preacher whose criticisms of Islam, COVID-19 public health measures, and gender fluidity have gained him a large following online and overseas.

“We believe there are elements that are satisfied in terms of religious motivated extremism,” Webb said.

Albanese did not mention the Christian community until asked a question about the bishop’s Assyrian church. The prime minister said he knew the group and added they were big contributors to Sydney community life.

“Chris Bowen as the local federal member who represents much of the Assyrian community in Sydney is with his community this morning. And we will come through this,” Albanese said.

Burgess said Australia’s terror threat level of “possible” – which was downgraded in 2022 as Islamic State diminished in global significance – still meant extremism was a present danger.

“In terms of the events in the Middle East, of course they do resonate here in Australia, but we have not seen that to date actually cause individuals to go to acts of terror. Of course, in this case, we’re keeping an open mind and we’ll let that be a subject to the investigation,” Burgess said.

Federal police boss Kershaw said: “All Australians should remain vigilant and I urge people who see or hear something that they feel is not right to contact the national security hotline immediately on 1800 123 400.”

Kershaw and Albanese both emphasised their disappointment with people involved in the riot that erupted outside the church after the attack, injuring several police officers.

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Albanese said the atmosphere outside the church was not helped by the use of social media by bad-faith actors, revealing he had spoken with Communications Minister Michelle Rowland about the “publication of videos that can be very harmful”.

“I just say to people think before you press send,” Albanese said. “I’ve said before, that often on social media people will say things they would never say to your face.”

Albanese said Australia was “overwhelmingly a harmonious society”.

“In my local community people of different faiths live side by side. And that is overwhelmingly the experience of Australians,” he said.

Scenes in Wakeley on Monday night following the church stabbing.

Scenes in Wakeley on Monday night following the church stabbing.

Premier Chris Minns warned against tit-for-tat violence perpetrated by those who felt angered by Monday’s church attack. As speculation swirled on social media regarding the alleged attacker’s motivation, Minns implored the community to stay united.

“There is no such thing in Australia as taking the law into your own hands. It doesn’t exist,” he said. “You will be met by the full force of the law if there’s any attempt of tit-for-tat violence in Sydney over the coming days.”

Federal MP Dai Le, whose federal electorate of Fowler includes Wakeley, said the church is one of seven Assyrian churches that are much loved in the community.

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“[They have] participated in activities in terms of handing out food and presents to the community and over the years,” she said.

Asked whether the bishop’s sometimes controversial public stances on social issues could have played a role in the attack, Le said people should not jump to conclusions.

“I would caution people [not] to jump to … any kind of interpretation conclusion about what the motivation behind it [is] before the police run their work,” she said.



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