More than 40 Australian Muslim groups on Monday condemned the siege taking place at a Sydney café where hostages are being held by an assailant displaying an Islamic flag.
"We reject any attempt to take the innocent life of any human being or to instill fear and terror into their hearts," the Muslim officials said in a statement, according to AFP.
The hostage-taker hung a black flag in the window of the Lindt café that reads "There is no God but Allah; Mohammed is his messenger."
The Muslim groups said the inscription has been misappropriated by misguided people who don’t represent the true character of Islam. That phrase "is not representative of a political statement, but reaffirms a testimony of faith that has been misappropriated by misguided individuals that represent no-one but themselves," AFP reported.
"Any such despicable act only serves to play into the agendas of those who seek to destroy the goodwill of the people of Australia and to further damage and ridicule the religion of Islam and Australian Muslims throughout this country," the Muslim groups' statement added.
The Muslim groups said their thoughts go out to the hostages and their loved ones, and that they are praying for the incident to end quickly and peacefully.
Meanwhile, amid the hostage crisis, Australians have taken to Twitter to rally around the local Muslim community and express solidarity with its members.
If you reg take the #373 bus b/w Coogee/MartinPl, wear religious attire, & don’t feel safe alone: I’ll ride with you. @ me for schedule
To counter anti-Muslim sentiments, one Twitter user who goes by the handle @SirTessa, who posted, "If you reg take the #373 bus b/w Coogee/MartinPl, wear religious attire, & don’t feel safe alone: I’ll ride with you. @ me for schedule."
Hundreds of Australians followed suit, posting tweets with the hashtag #illridewithyou, offering to escort local Muslims who fear backlash due to the siege situation. The hashtag was the top trending hashtag, surpassing #sydneysiege, in Australia.
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