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India reacts to priest stabbed at mass in Melbourne

Allegedly motivated by race, a knife attack in a Victorian church has grabbed international attention

Indian media has reported widely on yesterday’s stabbing in Melbourne of a Catholic priest, allegedly for racially motivated reasons.

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Father Tomy Mathew, who is from the Indian state of Kerala, was attacked with a knife just before the Italian-language 11am mass at St Matthew’s Parish, Fawkner.

A 72-year-old man has been arrested and charged with the attack, which was witnessed by people at the church. The accused man had been a regular at St Matthew’s.

News.com.au reported that witnesses claim the attacker threatened to kill Father Mathew, saying he couldn’t say mass due to being “Indian, a Hindu or Muslim.”

Times of India, Mathrubhumi, Daijiworld and other Indian outlets picked up the story. Melbourne had a series of highly publicised crimes upon Indian students and citizens between 2008 and 2010. These crimes prompted protest marches in Melbourne and diplomacy efforts between Australian government officials and their Indian counterparts.

Despite the international attention those racially linked crimes attracted less than a decade ago, Indian news outlets were not linking those events to yesterday’s attacks.

Father Mathew is in a stable condition in hospital, having suffered minor upper-body injuries.

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