In a suspected hate crime that took place on Sunday, an Indian Catholic priest Rev Tomy Kalathoor Mathew was stabbed in front of the worshippers inside a church in Melbourne, Australia.
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The 48-year-old priest, a native of Anakkampoyil in Kozhikode district of Kerala, was about to conduct the Sunday mass at the St Matthew's Church in Fawkner, Melbourne, when the attacker stabbed him in the neck at around 11 am.
According to the Australian media, the 72-year-old attacker yelled at Mathew and said that as he was Indian, he must be a Hindu or a Muslim and therefore can't conduct mass. The attacker, who is a 72-year-old Fawkner man of Italian origin, stabbed Mathew a dozen times in the neck in front of the worshippers who had come to attend the Italian-language mass.
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Despite the on-lookers trying to restrain the attacker, he managed to escape.
Mathew was taken to the Northern Hospital for treatment. Meanwhile, the police arrested the attacker on Sunday night.
According to the Times of India, Bishop Mar Remigiose Inchananiyil of Thamarassery diocese talked to Mathew over the phone. "It was a miraculous escape. Tomy Kalathoor Mathew said that he could escape from the knife attack only due to God's grace as he had worn special robes for the mass in addition to thick clothes. The knife didn't go deep and just injured the neck muscles," said Abraham Kavilpurayidathil, chancellor and spokesperson of Thamarassery diocese.
Mathew has been the parish priest of the Melbourne church since 2014.