Australia: Bishop condemns attacks on Indians

The bishop of Melbourne's northern regions has called for repentance amid dismay over racially motivated attacks on Indian students in Australia.

In a service on Sunday, Bishop Philip Huggins pleaded for forgiveness for "our prejudice and indifference" to people from different countries as he led a special prayer for "peace and welfare of all Indians in Australia" at the famous Paul's Cathedral in Melbourne.

"Forgive us for not honouring the culture of others, and thus taking away their self-respect ... forgive us for not listening to the griefs of all who are oppressed in this land, especially for Indians who are feeling vulnerable," he said.

Indian national Nitin Garg was stabbed to death by unknown assailants in Melbourne two weeks ago. Two Indian students aged 18 and 22 were injured in another attack on Monday.

During the Sunday prayer, Anglican Archbishop Philip Freier urged Australians to support the Indian community, particularly those grieving.

"I think the present situation of the anxiety of people of Indian descent, of people who have come here as students or come here in recent years, is something that challenges Australians who have been here longer," he was quoted as saying by The Australian.

He added: "I think we need a leap of empathy to understand what it feels like for people in India, for parents, for family members ... who are anxious for the welfare of their family member in our country."

Indian students comprise the second largest group of international students coming to Australia after Chinese. There are an estimated 97,000 Indian students in Australia.

The Catholic Church in India welcomed the statements from the Australian church. Father Babu Joseph, spokesperson of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, said: “We welcome the gesture.”

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