Assyrian church bishop who was stabbed says he forgives attacker

An Assyrian church bishop who was stabbed during a livestreamed mass outside of Sydney gave an update on his condition Thursday and said he had forgiven his attacker. The 16-year-old male suspect, who has not been publicly identified, was taken into custody following the attack Monday night at the in Wakeley. Authorities described the assault as a “terrorist incident.” “I am doing fine, recovering very quickly … there is no need to be worried or concerned,” Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel said in an audio message posted on social media, his first public comments since the attack. “I forgive whoever has done this act … I will always pray for you and whoever sent you to do this, I forgive them as well.” Bishop Emmanuel, who was injured in the attack, is the leader of a conservative sect of the Assyrian Orthodox faith. He has a strong social media following and is outspoken on a range of issues, including the war in Gaza and COVID-19 restrictions, according to Reuters. The church’s livestream showed a man, later identified as Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel, behind the altar in the church when a man walked toward him holding an unknown object. The man lunged at him and began to stab him in the chest. Churchgoers screamed and rushed to help the bishop, who could be seen falling to the ground as . The male suspect remains in custody and is in the hospital under police guard, Reuters reported. On the night of the attack, an angry crowd fought emergency crews outside the church and demanded that the suspected attacker be handed over to them, Reuters reported. “People just came along to participate in a riot. That is disgraceful and disgusting,” Webb said at a news conference. Nearly 50 officers were injured, and 20 police cars were damaged in the riot, which is currently under investigation. In his message, Bishop Emmanuel urged members of his church to remain calm and respect the law. The attack happened just days after a in Sydney left six dead. Westfield Bondi Junction, the six-level shopping mall in Sydney, reopened Thursday to allow people inside to pay their respects to the victims, while stores remain closed. A white floral tribute was laid out on the second floor and businesses are expected to reopen on Friday, Reuters reported. Digital’s Greg Norman and Reuters contributed to this report.