THE Primate of Australia, Dr Philip Freier, has called for an
investigation into how the gunman at the centre of Monday's hostage
crisis in Sydney had access to a gun.
"He was known to the police, was on bail on charges of being an
accessory to the murder of his wife and on 40 counts of sexual
assault, and had threatened the families of Australian soldiers
killed on active service," Dr Freier said in a statement. "Did he
acquire the firearm legally? Is it time to re-examineour firearm
regulations and their enforcement?"
The 16-hour siege in a coffee shop in the heart of Sydney's
business district came to a bloody end in the early hours of
Tuesday morning when the lone hostage-taker - an Iranian refugee
and self-described sheik - and two of the 17 hostages were shot
dead. Five women were hospitalised, together with a police
While the hostage drama was taking place, the Archbishop of
Sydney, Dr Glenn Davies, urged all Christians to pray for the
safety of the hostages, and for the police and security forces. Dr
Davies also called for "the speedy delivery of justice for those
who would seek to invade our world with such a doctrine of hate and
Public prayers for the hostages were said on the half-hour
throughout the day in St Paul's Cathedral, in Melbourne. There was
a report of a Roman Catholic priest, an imam, and a rabbi praying
together in the mosque in Lakemba, a suburb of Sydney, as 40 Muslim
groups expressed "utter shock and horror" at what was happening.
Their statement said that they rejected "any attempt to take the
innocent life of any human being, or to instil fear and terror into
their hearts". It was time for "all Australians to stand together
and support each other", they said.
Amid fears of a backlash against Australian Muslims, a Twitter
hashtag #illridewithyou was established: followers offered to ride
on public transport with any Muslims frightened of being targeted
on buses and trains.
On Tuesday morning, residents of Sydney were laying flowers at a
makeshift memorial in Martin Place, the scene of the hostage drama,
and flags on government buildings were flying at half-mast.