SHAFAQNA- Hearing the news of the Sydney café siege, Australian Muslims rushed to line up to help authorities on Monday, offering to negotiate with the gunman to free innocent hostages.
“We wanted to help in any way we could, we also saw it as our duty to do that,” a spokesman for the Grand Mufti of Australia, Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohammed, told Sydney Morning Herald on Tuesday, December 16.
Early on Monday, unknown number of people, ranging from 15-30, was taken hostages by a gunman at the Lindt chocolate cafe in Sydney’s Martin Place.
As the news spread about the siege, Dr Abu Mohammed offered his services to negotiate by phone or in person at the cafe in a bid to bring the situation to a peaceful conclusion.
He was not alone.
According to the paper, other Sydney Muslim imams made repeated offers during the day offering any type of support they could give or that might be needed.
Former Guantanamo Bay detainee Mamdouh Habib, who knew Man Haron Monis for some time, rang police and security agencies to offer his help, saying he had had a lot of contact with him in the past and was willing to try and calm him.
“He was a sick man,” said Habib.
“I knew him and I used to speak with him to try and calm him down,” Habib told Fairfax Media. “I was willing to try and do something.”
The operation to release hostages started after 2 am local time (1500 GMT on Monday) as people heard heavy gunfire and loud bangs rang out.
The siege ended dramatically with the death of two captives and the gunman, who was identified as Man Haron Monis, an Iranian refugee and self-styled sheikh facing multiple charges of sexual assault.
Muslims calling police have also offered their services as translators to talk to the man in whatever language he preferred.
“We felt the only people that could get through to him on a religious level or a cultural level was a member of the community,” community member Rebecca Kay said.
“We wanted to do our part to bring safety and peace back to this country.”
The one thing members of the Muslim community were asked to do yesterday was to find an ISIL flag to give to the gunman.
Three prominent people were asked separately to try and find a flag but none of them had any success.
During the time of the siege, Australians too rushed to show support for the Muslim community using the hashtag #IllRideWithYou.
They have also received messages of support from around the world on Tuesday including from Shahid Malik, who was the first Muslim in the UK to become a government minister.
“The campaign represents all that is great about humanity and I feel truly inspired by the reaction of so many Australians,” he said.
“We must always remember that the objective of those that commit such heinous acts is to drive wedges in our community in the hope of creating division and discord. The incredibly mature and common sense approach thus far will ensure they do not succeed.”