Stabbed Sydney bishop wants attack video online as eSafety commissioner battles Elon Musk

The Sydney bishop stabbed in an alleged terrorist attack has backed keeping graphic videos of his assault online, defending the “god-given right” to free speech.

In a video uploaded to YouTube, Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel made a public statement after he was stabbed several times during a live-streamed church service in Sydney’s southwest on April 15.

“I do acknowledge the Australian government’s desire to have the videos removed because of their graphic nature,” he said.

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“However, noting our God-given right to freedom of speech, and freedom of religion, I’m not opposed to the videos remaining on social media.

“It would be of great concern if people use the attack on me to serve their own political interests to control free speech.”

The Federal Court on Wednesday extended an injunction requiring X, formerly known as Twitter, to hide video showing the stabbing, which has been deemed a terrorist incident.

A 16-year-old boy is facing court over the attack.

The stabbing happened at the Assyrian Christ The Good Shepherd Church. Credit: AAP

The injunction will remain in place until at least May 10, pending a further court hearing.

Australia’s online safety watchdog, the eSafety Commissioner, issued a notice to social media platforms following the stabbing requiring the footage be removed, but X did not comply with the order.

Its owner Elon Musk had defended X, accusing the commissioner of censorship.

The Albanese government has been scathing of Musk, branding him an “arrogant billionaire”.

Opposition leader Peter Dutton by contrast said it was “silly” to try for a global takedown of the material, sounding a possible departure from bi-partisanship on the issue.

Earlier, the deputy Liberal leader Sussan Ley said she backed the eSafety commissioner “100 per cent” and was “really disappointed” with Musk’s approach to managing the social media platform.

“It’s just a free for all and it’s not fair and it’s not right,” she said.

In a statement after the extended injunction, the commission said while it was broadly satisfied with the compliance of social media companies to the takedown orders, it would take action where required.

Australia’s eSafety Commissioner wants Elon Musk’s X to delete a violent video from its servers. Credit: AP

“eSafety expects that platforms providing online services to Australians comply with Australian law and do everything practical and reasonable to minimise the harm of extreme violent video to our citizens and community,” the statement reads.

As part of the takedown order, clips online showing the April 15 stabbing attack would be hidden behind legal notices for all global users.

Lawyers for X told the Federal Court Bishop Emmanuel had signed an affidavit stating the religious leader was “strongly of the view” the graphic content should remain online.

It comes as calls grow for online age verification in Australia in an effort to protect younger users on the internet.

ASIO director-general Mike Burgess told the National Press Club such efforts to have age verification would “help with the problem”, as well as law enforcement efforts.

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