On 15–16 December 2014, a lone gunman, Man Haron Monis, held hostage nine customers and eight employees of a Lindt chocolate café located at Martin Place in Sydney, Australia. After a 16-hour standoff, during which areas of the Sydney central business district surrounding the site were cordoned off and nearby buildings locked down, police officers from the Tactical Operations Unit stormed the café upon hearing gunshots from inside. At least one hostage was shot by Monis, who himself was shot dead after police entered in response. Two hostages died, while three hostages and a police officer were injured during the police raid.
Early on, hostages were seen holding a jihadist black flag up against the window of the café, with the Islamic shahādah creed written on it in Arabic. Initially the media mistook it for the flag used by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL); the gunman later demanded that an ISIL flag be brought to him in the middle of the crisis. The gunman was described as having indicated a "political motivation".
Police treated the event as a terrorist attack, and negotiated with Monis throughout the day. About 50 Muslim groups issued a joint statement in which they condemned the incident.
The gunman, born in Iran as Mohammad Hassan Manteghi, had been granted political asylum in Australia in 2001. He had a history of criminal charges including sexual assault, and was to be tried as an accessory in his ex-wife's murder. He had been convicted for criminal use of the postal service to "menace, harass or cause offence", for sending letters to the families of soldiers killed in Afghanistan in which he called the soldiers murderers.
Public reaction and aftermath
Social media has since seen a large backlash from the Martin Place siege. Pro-gun lobbyists have used the incident to justify how gun-control laws work against the populace, despite this being the first real terrorist attack on Sydney since gun control laws were issued. Anti-refugee advocates have used Monis' history as proof that asylum seekers are a threat to the Australian way of life.
The day the siege finished, numerous celebrities expressed their sympathies for Muslim Australians with #Illridewithyou. This has attracted negative feedback from non-Muslim Australians, who feel that this is victimising Islam for the sake of political correctness while simultaneously undermining the suffering of the hostages.
When news of the siege became public, numerous passers-by took selfies of themselves mere metres from the site, no doubt getting a ton of negative feedback for their insensitivity.
Christian Democrat Leader Fred Nile made some insensitive comments regarding the inactivity of the male hostages, stating that they were cowards for not defending the women and that "The only man really there was the man with the gun."