Tensions surface as Australian Muslims fear Sydney siege backlash

As Australia mourned the dead, thousands of people gathered at Martin Place to lay flowers
As Australia mourned the dead, thousands of people gathered at Martin Place to lay flowers

Religious leaders and ordinary Australians sought to defuse communal tensions on Monday, after a siege at a Sydney cafe by a gunman who forced hostages to display an Islamic flag raised fears of a backlash against the country’s Muslim minority.

Within hours of the attack on the Lindt cafe in the centre of the city, a Muslim group reported that women wearing the hijab had been spat on and the right-wing Australian Defense League called on followers to protest at two major mosques.

The protests did not materialize and little is known about the true motives of the gunman.

But in the harbourside city, home to half of Australia’s 500,000 Muslims, police moved on a man shouting anti-Islamic abuse at the scene of the ongoing siege.

The man strode up to a police cordon and shouted: “Someone is going to die here because of Islam! There is no such thing as moderate Islam. Wake up and smell the coffee.”

He was confronted by another man who shouted back: “Muslims are welcome here.” Police urged the first man to leave, to a mix of catcalls and claps of support.

The siege coincides with growing concerns in Australia about the dangers posed by Islamist militants, with the country’s security agency raising its national terrorism public alert to “high” in September.

The same month, anti-terrorism police said they had thwarted an imminent threat to behead a random member of the public and days later, a teenager in the city of Melbourne was shot dead after attacking two anti-terrorism officers with a knife.

‘Shock and horror’

New South Wales Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said he was working closely with community groups and there would be an increased police presence in the city to “ensure that everyone is kept safe”.

The Australian National Imams Council, together with the Grand Mufti of Australia, issued a statement saying it “condemns this criminal act unequivocally”.

An umbrella organization encompassing all of the major Muslim groups in the country called for calm and expressed “utter shock and horror”.

The group stressed that the black and white flag, displayed by tense hostages in the window of the cafe and juxtaposed against the “Merry Christmas” sign stenciled beneath it, was a statement of faith, not politics.

“We remind everyone that the Arabic inscription on the black flag is not representative of a political statement, but reaffirms a testimony of faith that has been misappropriated by misguided individuals that represent nobody but themselves,” the group said in a statement.

News of the hostage drama flashed around Sydney shortly after most of the city had begun the working day, shattering what should have been a quiet Monday in the sunny Australian commercial capital just over a week before Christmas.

Samier Dandan, a spokesman for the Imams Council, said the group had already received reports of women wearing the hijab, or Islamic head scarf, being spat on and harassed.

“We are sending out the message to our community to be vigilant about where they are going because we don’t want any incidents to fuel the fire,” Dandan said.

Those reports bore out concerns of locals like Mohamad Hasan, a computer engineer who emigrated to Australia from Jordan 20 years ago, who said he was deeply worried that Muslims like his wife could be attacked simply for wearing traditional clothing.

“I am worried because maybe I don’t look like a Muslim, but my wife like, (is) wearing a head scarf, so she might be affected by this,” Hasan said, speaking a few metres from the scene of the hostage crisis.

“Some stupid people … think ‘this is a Muslim, we should get revenge (on) everyone looking like a Muslim’.”

But many Australians took to social media to express their support for Muslims.

The Twitter hash tag “#illridewithyou”, expressing support for Muslims who felt vulnerable on public transport in the wake of the siege, attracted tens of thousands of messages of supporters within a few hours.




10 responses to “Tensions surface as Australian Muslims fear Sydney siege backlash”

  1. 5thDrawer Avatar

    Wait until they hear that the Talibani Assholes killed 84 kids in a Pakistani School. I guess they have a real hate going for Malala now …..

    1. sweetvirgo Avatar

      And the count is rising.

      Good morning habibi ;))

      1. 5thDrawer Avatar

        OOoooohhhhh … Habibti … turn me on first thing in the AM !?
        (ok,ok … I slept in … mmmmm … rascal … it’s that dark hair that does it…)
        And yes, I saw ‘over 130, mostly children’ … retaliation for army actions in mountains …. they go to town on children instead of an army …. and pick on a school.
        Unlike the nut-bar ‘lone wolves’ in American schools, or the one who did a job on women in Montreal, these guys do a Team Effort and publish the glorious reasons later. Killers all …..

  2. In Iraq, 150 women were executed for refusing sex jihad http://lenta.ru/news/2014/12/16/sexjihad/

    1. 5thDrawer Avatar

      (you know we don’t all speak Greek … geeezzzz)
      But yes, refusing is not allowed … and some wanted to be killed rather than suffer it, but were not allowed to commit suicide either … perhaps that 150 wanted food first.

      1. In the world there are no more religions. Only two ideologies. Humanity vs vandalism, terrorism (liberal fundamentalism is vandalism also)

        1. also no more isms, sorry, humans vs vandals, terrorists and liberal fundamentalists. Hind is example of liberal fundamentalist (protecting the rights of cannibals)

  3. In the evening, December 16 south of Sana’a, near Rada (province of Bayda, Yemen) were committed two suicide bombing using car bombs. The victims of these attacks have become at least 26 people, including 16 female elementary school students

    1. Suicide bombers attacked a car bomb on the building and a checkpoint when the school bus past. The first car was loaded with potatoes, under which the bomb was hidden – this vehicle was used for attacks against the CPR and the school bus. Shortly after the first explosion, another car bomb exploded near the house of the leader of the Shiite rebels Abdullah Idris.

      Houthi rebels accused of terrorist acts Sunni “Al-Qaeda”

  4. “Minister of Education” of “Islamic State”, German citizen of Egyptian origin Reda Zeyam died during strikes on militant positions in Iraq. This is reported by German television stations NDR and WDR.

    Zeyam, known by the nickname “Dhul-Karain”, was killed on December 6-7, near the city of Mosul. Information about his death, confirmed the Iraqi authorities.

    Reda Zeyam was a supporter of extremist ideas from the beginning of the 1990s. He organized the so-called multicultural center in the Bavarian city of Ulm, which was shut down by the authorities in 2005 for the recruitment of terrorists. Zeyama suspected of financing terrorist attack in Bali in 2002, but his guilt has not been proved.

    For many years Zeyam family lived in Berlin, while he was under the supervision of the security services. In May 2012, he participated in a meeting in Bonn, Salafis that ended in clashes with police. Shortly thereafter Zeyam emigrated to Egypt, and in August 2013 it became known that he moved to civil war-torn Syria.

    The post of “Minister” Zeyam, according to TV channels received through their influence in the ranks of the Salafists. It was on his initiative in schools controlled by the Islamists in Iraq was forbidden to teach music, geography, fine arts and social science. Headquartered Zeyama located at the University of Mosul.

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