A lone gunman continues to hold hostages in a diner in Sydney. A black flag used by Islamic militants in the Middle East hangs in the window. Meanwhile Australians are showing support for Muslims, demonstrating understanding that not all Muslims hold the same views as those who resort to violence as the hostage taker in the diner has done.
There’s a new hashtag making the rounds of Twitter. In addition to #SydneySiege, Australians who are supporting the Muslim community are tweeting with the hashtag #I’llRideWithYou. According to The Wall Street Journal, those who tweet using that hashtag are offering to accompany those who wear Muslim dress and are worried about suffering backlash as the siege in the Sydney café continues to drag on. Muslim leaders have condemned the taking of the hostages, reports CNN.
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The lone gunman has now held an unspecified number of hostages for more than 12 hours. Five hostages reportedly ran from the diner, but it’s unclear how many hostages are still inside. It’s believed that the hostages are diner workers and customers who were eating at the diner.
Gunman allegedly posts videos making demands
A new video that’s said to be of one of the hostages inside the Sydney café is making the rounds of the internet. It was posted on YouTube, and there are reports that Australian officials may have removed the videos. However, some of the videos were still available on Twitter as of this writing. One of the videos is embedded below.
There are multiple videos showing the demands. One demand is to get an ISIS flag, and the gunman said he would release one hostage. He claimed that there are two more bombs planted in Sydney and asked the news media to inform “the other brothers” not to blow up those bombs yet. He also wants Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott to contact him online somehow.
It appears as if the videos are showing back up as quickly as authorities can remove them.
Australians take selfies outside
Officials cleared the area around the diner where the hostages are being held and put a lockdown in place, but that hasn’t stopped Australians in the area from taking selfies of themselves near the area that’s blocked off. Twitter users posted photos of people taking those selfies.
— Parag Jain (@ParagJ_11) December 15, 2014