Flower tributes continue to grow at Sydney’s Martin Place in memory of Tori Johnson and Katrina Dawson, innocent victims of the Sydney Siege by the sole perpetrator Man Haron Monis who was himself shot and killed early Tuesday morning 16 December.
The siege inside the Lindt café lasted for almost 16 hours while police restrained themselves and negotiated with the gunman hoping for a peaceful resolution without any loss of life.
However they finally moved in when gunfire was heard from inside and the shoot out resulted in the death of three people including the gunman and injuries to a small number of hostages and a policeman.
As it turned out, the perpetrator was a sole disturbed and deranged person with a history of violence and a long criminal record with no connection to a terrorist group.
The long siege and the ensuing media circus beaming continually live footage of the area to the world kept everyone’s attention to the unfolding drama. The social media went into a frenzy.
The outcome, tragic as it has been, also had its positive effects.
The police, politicians, community leaders and even the media showed restraint and responsibility in dealing with the situation and in maintaining calm hoping for a peaceful resolution.
Right from the start of the siege Prime Minister Tony Abbott, NSW Premier Mike Baird and NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione showed exemplary leadership urging all Australians to come together at this time of national trauma and avoid any speculation and jumping prematurely to any conclusions.
While the siege was into its very early stage, the Muslim community leadership got together promptly to condemn the perpetrator distancing itself from any justification that the gunman could have claimed for his evil act.
Nine hours into the siege, Muslims gathered at the main Sydney Mosque at Lakemba to pray for a peaceful resolution of the siege and safety of the hostages. They were promptly joined by a number of interfaith leaders from Christian and Jewish communities and politicians in solidarity so that the Muslim community is not blamed by Islamophobes for this evil act by an individual.
The Lebanese Muslim Association issues a media release on Monday 15 December with a lost of almost 50 Muslim organisations sharing its shock and horror with the fellow Sydneysiders for the hostage taking act. A second media release soon after the end of the siege stated “The Australian Muslim Community is deeply saddened to learn this morning of the tragic end to the siege with the loss of two innocent lives”.
The Mufti of Australia spoke on behalf of the National Imam’s Council and released a statement “We are deeply saddened by the tragic end to the siege with the loss of life. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of those killed and to the hostages who suffered the trauma of the siege. We commend the community for showing great strength and resilience in the face of the current challenges. We encourage all Muslims to continue to draw on their strength of faith to help sustain them through these times of difficulty in a calm, dignified and respectful manner”.
The amazing phenomenon of support for Muslims has been via the social media #illridewithyou started by a couple of Australians Sir Tessa and Rachael Jacobs offering Muslim female commuters that they will accompany them to their destinations in order to support them.
By the time the siege ended #illridewithyou went viral and became a global phenomenon where people all over the world, specifically from Australia, North America and Europe offered Muslims safety by accompanying them while travelling.
The tragic Sydney siege has been a blow to terrorism, racism, hate and bigotry and has galvanized the international community to come together in support of each other.