Australians flocked on Tuesday, December 16 at Martin Place in the center of Sydney to lay flowers, sign condolence books, to meditate or out of curiosity. The police came and went in the Lindt Cafe, theater of hostage crisis that lasted more than sixteen hours. “Yesterday we lost some of our innocence,” confided to reporters an Australian of thirty years. The country, usually so peaceful, discovered in the morning that the hostage had ended in blood.
“The siege is over,” tweeted, around 3 am, the police of New South Wales, of which Sydney is the capital. The police stormed after hearing gunshots. Witnesses said there were strong explosions and flashes of light. This was grenade throwing. Confusion reigned until police announced the results at a press conference, in addition to the abduct, two people were killed.
There were a total of 17 hostages in the Lindt Cafe. Three men were released after six hours of detention and two women an hour later. The photo of one of them jumping into the arms of a police officer, frightened, quickly went around the world. One of them was a student who worked in the cafe for one week, says the newspaper The Australian. Police have not yet indicated whether the hostages had fled or had been released. Similarly, it did not provide information on the conditions in which people were kept for these sixteen long hours in the cafe. And shooting behind the death of the two hostages, was it from the police or the abductor? They sounded during a “confrontation” between the police and the abductor. Not until the findings of the investigation which has been launched to find out more.
The identity of the victims was soon revealed: Katrina Dawson, a woman of 38, a lawyer, mother of three, and Tori Johnson, 34, director of Lindt Cafe. There are also six wounded, including three women hit by gunfire. One policeman was wounded in the face.
Flags were at half mast, including the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge, to honor the memory of the victims. “Sydney was hit by a tragedy that could nothave ever imagined,” said Mike Baird, Premier of New South Wales.
“There is nothing more Australian than go down to the local coffee shop in the morning and it is tragic that people who were just living their lives, like every day, were taken in such a terrible incident,” responded Australia’s first Conservative Minister Tony Abbott. “Australians should feel reassured by the way our agencies responsible for security and law enforcement responded,” he added, while recognizing that there were “lessons to be learned from the tragedy.
The profile of the abductor, Man Haron Monis, aged 50, is the center of attention. Of Iranian origin, he arrived in Australia as a refugee in 1996. He was well known to police forces, was on bail for several acts of violence. From the beginning of the hostage crisis, he exhibited from the coffee shop windows black and white flag bearing the Shahada, the Muslim profession of faith, the first of the five pillars of Islam: “There is no other god than Allah and Muhammad is his prophet.” After a few hours, he demanded to bring him a flag of the Islamic State.
“A deranged individual”
But Tony Abbott has primarily presented as a person “mentally unstable”, which has “a long history of criminal violence and attracted to extremism.” “And during the siege, he sought to hide behind the Islamic state and its cult of death,” said Tony Abbott.
For Manny Conditsis, who was counsel for the abductor, Man Haron Monis, the latter is “a deranged individual,” who “acted alone”. “This is not a concerted terrorist act,” he said. This man seemed isolated in the Muslim community. If it appears in photos with a Shia turban, he converted a while ago to Sunni Islam, before allegiance to the Islamic state. The individual, who claimed to be an expert in astrology and black magic, was sued repeatedly for sexual assault and abuse. He was suspected of killing his ex-wife. He was best known for sending hate mail to the families of fallen Australian soldiers in Afghanistan. He was sentenced by the court for that reason.
Solidarity with Muslims
But whatever his profile, “disturbed man” or follower of the Islamic state, Man Haron Monis seems to have best served the cause of this organization, which called in September to kill Americans, French, Australians and Canadians citizens of countries engaged in Iraq. “Do person to ask advice, look the person agreement. Kill the infidels, whether civilian or military,” said Isis, asking to make as much noise as possible. The taking of hostages made the front page of the media worldwide.
Iran, the country of origin of the abductor, on Monday condemned the taking of hostages, calling it “unjustifiable”. In Australia, forty Muslim organizations spoke of “a despicable act.” Community representatives have called for the union of the Australians, worrying reprisals. Islamophobic remarks began circulating on social networks, but conversely, the keyword #illridewithyou was an international success. Initially it was proposed to accompany Australian Muslims in transit if they do not feel safe. This took the form of broad support for the Muslim community.