Bishop in Australia, others stabbed during worship

By Edward Ross |
Suspect approaches Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel at livestreamed service in Wakeley, Australia.
Suspect approaches Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel at livestreamed service in Wakeley, Australia. | (Christian Daily International screenshot)

An Eastern Syriac bishop and at least three others were stabbed as he presided over a worship service in a suburb of Sydney, Australia that was being livestreamed on Monday evening (April 15).

Video footage of the livestream shows an assailant approaching Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel and thrusting what appeared to be a knife at him at least six times as the ultra-conservative preacher addressed the Christ The Good Shepherd Church congregation in Wakeley, according to

Police arrived at the site soon after 7 p.m. and arrested a suspect, according to The Guardian. Protestors at the church site had clashed with police clamoring for the suspect to be arrested.

CNN reported on Tuesday (April 16) that New South Wales Police Commissioner Karen Webb indicated the attack was religiously motivated.

“We believe there are elements that are satisfied in terms of religious motivated extremism,” she told reporters. “After consideration of all the material, I declared that it was a terrorist incident.”

While video footage appeared to show first-responders aiding the downed and bleeding bishop, police reportedly said no one suffered life-threatening injuries.

The bishop and the other wounded members were treated by paramedics and taken to a hospital.

“I’ve heard the bishop is OK, and the attacker has been arrested,” Fairfield City Council Deputy Mayor Charbel Saliba said, according to “The congregation at the church arrested him, held him down until the police came. I’ve also heard from people who were there that the bishop, after he got stabbed, they restrained the attacker, put his hand on him and prayed on him, for Jesus to save him.”

Saliba, who is not a member of Christ The Good Shepherd Church, is reportedly a close friend of the bishop.

The church reportedly hosts Emmanuel’s sermons, which have a wide audience, as well as English and Assyrian Bible studies, Divine Liturgy services and youth ministries.

A prominent leader of an ultra-conservative wing of the Assyrian Orthodox, Emmanuel reportedly gained fame during the COVID-19 pandemic for criticizing lockdowns and vaccines. Livestreaming his preaching on YouTube and other social media, he reportedly opposed LGBTQ ideology and voiced hardline views on U.S. and Russian issues.

Born Robert Shlimon in 1970 in Iraq, Emmanuel was ordained a priest in 2009.  He adopted the episcopal name Mari Emmanuel when he was he was ordained a bishop in 2011 in the Ancient Church of the East. In 2015, he established an independent, Eastern Syriac church.

(Updated April 16 to include comment by NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb about religious motivation)