Two days ago, an armed man took around 17 Sydney café patrons hostage. One of the first indications of what was happening was when he made some of his captives stand against the café windows, holding up a black and white flag proclaiming an Islamic creed.
The siege was brought to an end over 17 hours later leaving the gunman and two of his hostages dead.
It was later revealed that the man had previously been in trouble with the law for sending hate letters to the families of Australian soldiers who had been killed in Afghanistan; as well as being on bail related to events associated with the murder of his ex-wife, and while on bail faced many charges of sexual assault.
Therefore some have pointed out that the Lindt café siege was not technically a “terrorist” event, but a criminal act perpetrated by a mentally disturbed individual who was already known to authorities.
But considering ISIS have called for supporters to conduct personal attacks in their own nations, almost any serious criminal act has the potential to be a “terrorist” event when its perpetration has been inspired by the ISIS call to action.
In September 2001 the terrorist weapons of choice were civilian airliners. Today the weapons being used are unstable and misguided individuals who are encouraged into conducting violent acts, by any means, in the countries where they live. The café siege fits into that category.
I have seen people objecting to the link being made between the perpetrator and Islam. They say that similar links were not made between Christianity and Martin Bryant (the 1996 Port Arthur shooter). But the reason for that is clear: Bryant didn’t associate himself with Christianity. On the other hand, one of the café siege perpetrator’s first acts was to display a flag of the Islamic creed and later to link himself with ISIS (the well-known terrorist group seeking to establish an Islamic Caliphate).
While most Moslems residing in the west may not identify themselves with the extreme Islamism of groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda, it is clear that those violent groups DO identify themselves with Islam, even though their expression and understanding of Islam may be different to that of western Moslems.
On Monday there was blanket coverage of the siege on all major channels. After the siege was ended the coverage continued throughout Tuesday, especially on Sydney’s channel 7, whose studios are directly opposite the Lindt café in Martin Place. Like many Australians I watched a lot of that coverage. It was a significant event in a city where I lived until about eight years ago.
But I noticed within that coverage room was given to mention another siege and more victims of Islamic extremism. That story was given a two or three minute report.
That siege was in Pakistan. Over 140 were killed including 132 children when murderers from the Taliban (Moslems) attacked a Moslem school.
The photos illustrating this post are of a floral memorial that has been accumulating in Martin Place since early Tuesday morning (16 Dec 2014)