sydney siege, racism, tolerance

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

“I’m not racist, I just hate Chinese people – oh and all the Muslims, of course.”

A heinous outlook, isn’t it? I’m not kidding – someone recently said this appallingly racist, stupid and ignorant statement to my face.

And in the wake of Monday’s 16-hour Sydney siege – which saw three people die, including two innocent hostages and the gunman at the centre of the siege at the Lindt Chocolate Café, Martin Place, in Sydney’s CBD – let’s look at Australia’s dark, ugly underbelly of racism, which has once again surged to the fore of public consciousness.

RELATED: #PrayForSydney

The siege, when ended in tragedy in the early hours of last Tuesday morning, has caused an outpouring of public grief and inevitable finger-pointing and conflicting opinion.

On the positive, the site of the siege has now become an ever-expanding sea of beautiful floral tributes as far as the eye can see. And the widely supported #illridewithyou hashtag, in support of peace-loving Muslims now scared of public retaliatory attacks and abuse on public transport, reflected great solidarity in the face of terror and mad extremism.

But nothing can bring back the dead – the innocent victims of the bloody siege – café manager Tori Johnson, 34, and barrister and mother of three Katrina Dawson, 38.

Their loved ones must be experiencing unimaginable grief and our hearts go out to them. And some of the 17 hostages held during the siege have returned to the scene of their terrifying ordeal to leave tributes. But their lives will never be the same – it will take great courage and strength to put this torment behind them.

sydney siege, racism, tolerance

But at a time for the nation’s sorrow, reflection and unity – and respect for the siege victims and their families – those who peddle racial vilification found a new hate target.

“All muslims are evil!” ranted some. And: “Refugees should go back to where they came from!” And the old racist’s standby: “You’re type aren’t welcome in our country!”

Police have also reported an increase in anti-Muslim sentiment and racial attacks since the siege. I like to think and hope that the majority of Australians will not tolerate such senseless, rampant racism peddled by the stupid, uneducated, prejudiced and uninformed.

Let’s all rise up to defend fellow peace-loving citizens in our community, no matter what their culture, race, religion or creed.

For the terrible atrocities committed by a mad, evil and lone Muslim gunman with a violent past is no excuse to let senseless and vile hatred infiltrate our lives. Many many peace-loving and law-abiding moderate Muslims live among us and have condemned the Sydney siege.

And sure, standing up to racist bullies isn’t easy – especially if it’s someone you know, as in my case – but we owe it to ourselves and our children to do what’s right.

Let’s hope the inherent good in most people triumphs over illogical, blind, bitter and baseless racial vilification.

For racism has no place in multicultural, modern Australia. I won’t stand for it. Will you?

What do you think?

sydney siege, racism, tolerance
Main image via www.abc.net.au; secondary image via  www.9news.com.au and final image via 702 ABC Sydney, @702Sydney.