In an apparent hate crime, an Indian priest, Tomy Kalathoor Mathew, 48, was stabbed inside a church in Melbourne in Australia right in front of worshippers who had assembled for Sunday morning mass.
A native of Anakkampoyil in Kozhikode district, Kerela, Tomy was stabbed at around 11 am Australian time by a man at St Matthew's Church in Fawkner, a northern suburb of Melbourne. The attack took place when the priest was about to begin the Italian mass.
The assailant was a 72-year-old man, of Italian-origin. He has been charged with intentionally and recklessly causing injury. According to the report, it is believed that the offender told the priest that because he was Indian, he must be a Hindu or a Muslim and therefore can't be saying mass. Attacking the priest, the assailant yelled "You are Indian, a Hindu or Muslim, you cannot say mass, I will kill you". The man reportedly approached Mathew, pulled out a knife and stabbed the priest in the neck in front of dozens of parishioners. Though some people tried to restrain the attacker, he broke free and fled the scene.
The attack was described as "appalling" by the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne. Father Tomy has been parish priest of the Melbourne church since late 2014.