On the Sydney Siege in Martin Place
Update: I was gutted to wake this morning to the tragic news that two of the hostages lives were lost in the siege. That something could happen this close to my home rattles me to the core. My thoughts are with their families and friends, as well as with those hostages who survived and are recovering from the trauma and any injuries sustained during the ordeal.
I am also 100% committed to actually engaging in the hashtag #illridewithyou and while I walk to work, if anyone (Muslim, non-Muslim Middle-Eastern or otherwise) fears community backlash and walks from the inner-East to the Ultimo/Glebe area of Sydney and back, it’d be my honour to walk with you.
Firstly, I’d like to say to anyone worried (as I know many of my interstate and international friends and family are) that despite my apartment only being a short walk from Martin Place, I am safe and sound at home now, baking gingerbread ladies and watching the news. (Not that I was ever in danger or trapped, I work several kilometres south of Martin Place, just FYI)
I really hoped this siege would be over by now, with those trapped inside now at home safely with their families, unfortunately we are now at over nine hours and that both saddens and scares me.
In light of the situation, I have a few words I’d like to share with you all and I hope you’ll take a moment to read:
Yesterday, there were wonderful, peaceful Muslim women walking around Pitt St Mall and surrounds (just south of Martin Place), which was packed with Christmas shoppers, carring bunches of roses and other brightly coloured flowers. These women were handing out the flowers, brightening up people’s days with small acts of kindness and trying to show Australians that Islam isn’t a scary or dangerous religion.
I stopped and spoke to some of those girls, who were just lovely and we had a great chat about what they were doing and how they want to break down the barrier between our cultures and religions. Their goals were admirable and reminded me of how wonderful multiculturalism is, how lucky I am to live in a country with such an amazing melting pot of cultures and how friendly our society is capable of being.
I only wished I’d spent more time with them, as I really thought that what they were doing was a wonderful thing especially at a time of year that we come together to cherish family and friends and peace so much, it was amazing to see them joining in on the cheer and working to bridge the gap between our cultures. I truly hope that those non-Muslim Australians who came into contact with these women took their own personal steps forward to break down any barriers or prejudices they may have held previously.
What is happening in Martin Place today is frightening and potentially incredibly damaging to the already fragile relationship between our cultures, so please be careful before you make generalisations about Islam as a wider religion.
But more importantly, stay safe and look after yourselves and those around you. My thoughts are with those trapped inside and their families.
Merry whatever-you-celebrate-at-this-time-of-year (and can I come for dinner?)!