Australian Hostage Situation Ends: A Community Stands Together

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Yesterday, the city of Sydney–and the entire world–watched as a lone gunman with likely terroristic motives took over a cafe in the city and held hostages. It’s believed that approximately 17 customers and employees were held captive. It happened in Lindt cafe in the financial district. Details are still uncertain, but it seems like the incident ended with the gunman and two of the hostages dead and others injured. The stand-off lasted for over sixteen hours before police stormed the cafe and got out the hostages. Some had escaped earlier, others were there the full sixteen hours.

The shooter is believed to be one man, acting alone, named Man Haron Monis. He was an Iranian immigrant, and had been in trouble with the law before. He was involved in the murder of his ex-wife, and he had gotten caught writing offensive letters to the families of soldiers who had died in Afghanistan.

While it’s being called a “terrorist” attack by many, it’s hard to determine if that’s actually true. At one point, the hostages were forced to hold up a banner with writing in Arabic on it. It’s called the Shahada, and it’s described by The New York Post as follows:

The Shahada translates as “There is no god but God and Muhammad is his messenger.” It is considered the first of Islam’s five pillars of faith, and is similar to the Lord’s Prayer in Christianity. It is pervasive throughout Islamic culture, including the green flag of Saudi Arabia. Jihadis have used the Shahada in their own black flag.

Unfortunately, it’s been misappropriated and used by some terrorist groups, including an Al-Qaeda linked group in Syria. However, it seems that this was just the act of one crazy man, and not necessarily linked to a wider group of any sort. Australia has purportedly had some issues with Islamist extremism recently, and it’s estimated that at least 70 Australians are fighting for ISIS.

Luckily, many members of Australian society have been admirably non-reactionary. In order to combat prejudice and anger today, the hashtag #illridewithyou was born out of reports that some Muslims were experiencing harassment on public transportation today. The hashtag has now gone viral, as an attempt to show support for the Muslim community in Australia. Here are, presumably, the tweets that started it:

There have been remarkable examples of a community coming together through this hashtag.

It’s heartening to see that Australia, despite reeling from yesterday’s tragedy, is still coming together as a country. Many other nations, the United States included, could do well to learn from our friend down under.


Anneliese Mahoney
Anneliese Mahoney is Managing Editor at Law Street and a Connecticut transplant to Washington D.C. She has a Bachelor’s degree in International Affairs from the George Washington University, and a passion for law, politics, and social issues. Contact Anneliese at



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