By Mohamed Taha
Sydney’s Muslim community say they are horrified by the cafe siege and deeply concerned about individuals using spiritual realities for their “misguided political agendas”.
The UN Alliance of Civilisations’ Aftab Malik, who also works as a scholar-in-residence at the Lebanese Muslim Association in Lakemba in south-west Sydney, said he was shocked by what has taken place.
“My reaction is one of shock, horror, aversion and of deep concern,” Mr Malik said.
“I feel the Muslim community has been facing a series of unfortunate events.
“Like anyone else they are deeply concerned how it’s a possibility that yet again their faith has been dragged through the mud by a group of young individuals who represent no one but themselves.”
Mr Malik said both the Muslim community and the wider public should wait for more clarity.
“We have a lot more questions than answers and we must be patient and allow hard facts to emerge before we jump to any conclusions,” he said.
“We need to avoid wild speculation and use sensitive language to avoid any tensions escalating.”
Mr Malik said the black flag used in the hostage situation contained the Muslim testimony of faith.
“The Shahada literally means the testimony of faith and Muslims believe it is a transcendental truth,” he said.
“We’re seeing a branding war taking place amongst various extreme groups Jabhbat al-Nusra, Al Qaeda and the offshoots and now we have [the Islamic State militant group].
“They’re using very powerful spiritual realities and being misappropriated for their misguided political agendas.
“What we’re seeing is a group of individuals trying to create Islam to be synonymous with barbarism and death.
“They’re bankrupt individuals using these very lofty spiritual ideals to justify and endorse their misguided ways.”
Community worry incident will incite intolerance
Lakemba resident Arman Rahman said he was horrified when he heard news this morning.
“I was pretty shocked,” he said. “It seemed unreal that this sort of thing could happen in Australia.”
Mr Rahman said he was hopeful the public would not the target or judge Australian Muslims as a result of what happened.
“There is a possibility of intolerance as a result,” he said.
“I think Australia is a lot more tolerant, we have different cultures and religions here so we will deal with it as a united community.”
Another Lakemba resident said the actions of the individual do not represent those of Muslim faith.
“I don’t know what is going on right now. Muslim faith does not allow such sort of actions, so what I can say its that it’s completely wrong. Shouldn’t be done,” he said.
Lakemba local Shahen Islam said he was in the city when the hostage situation unfolded.
“I was in the city and I couldn’t believe what was happening,” he said. “It’s unbelievable.”
The father-of-four said the incident would tarnish the reputation of the Australian Muslim community.
“The Muslim community is good and we completely disagree with what these bad people are doing,” he said.
“They are bad people, it’s not good at all.”