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We must not let fear of terrorism divide us: hostage survivor

On the third anniversary of the Lindt Cafe siege Louisa Hope reflects on its worrying legacy

“Through the whole 17-odd hours, he did not talk about religion at all. It did not seem to be at all important to him. It was all about his personal angst with the government, and with Tony Abbott in particular. And it makes sense to me that he would latch on to something like ISIS to elevate his own grandiosity … as narcissistic psychopaths tend to do.”

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For a long time, Louisa Hope did not share the specific details of her experience as a hostage in the Lindt Café siege with the media, deciding that “discretion was the better part of valour”. She explains, “I did it out of respect for Coroner Michael Barnes and the legal process.”

Louisa is more frank now that it is all “done, if not dusted,” with today marking three years since gunman Man Monis held her and 17 others hostage in Martin Place in Sydney, resulting in two of them being killed.

She says she is confident in the Police’s ability to protect Australian citizens as much as is possible and goes so far as to say that, in many ways, in terms of law enforcement, we are living in some of the safest of days.

In terms of law enforcement, we are living in some of the safest of days.

Louisa’s confidence coincides with the City of Melbourne’s installation of 90 loudspeakers throughout the city just this week, ready to sound sirens and instructions to the public in the event of a terrorist attack. In addition, Victoria Police has announced that it has thwarted two terrorist plots to target Christmas and new year crowds in Melbourne.

However, Louisa is concerned that Australians are at risk of allowing the fear of terrorism to divide Australians according to racial or religious differences, insisting that it’s to our disadvantage as a society – and especially as Christians within that society – if we surrender our multicultural values.

“The danger for us as a nation is not safety, but issues around of our national psyche. The danger is in the politicians who will manipulate us and media outlets that will make money by stoking our fear.”

“The danger for us as a nation is not safety, but issues around of our national psyche.” Louisa Hope

When the inquest’s findings were released in May this year, it was determined that Man Monis’ crimes fitted within the accepted definition of terrorism because he “adopted extreme violence with a view to influencing government action and/or public opinion”.

Importantly, though, the inquest also found that “it remains unclear whether Monis was motivated by IS to prosecute its bloodthirsty agenda or whether he used that organisation’s fearsome reputation to bolster his impact.”

This distinction is an important one to Louisa, who believes that ISIS/Daesh are given way too much credit and distract us from our own obligations.

Louisa is convinced that God put her in the Lindt cafe for a reason.

“There’s a lesson to be learnt by all of us to step back from the hysteria of labelling things and focus on our service to others. What’s happening in the Middle East is beyond tragic and as Christians, we are blessed to have the opportunity to minister to people in the comfort of our own country when they come here as refugees. Instead, we are actively inflicting psychological wounds on traumatised people because of fear. And that is to our shame as a nation, and as Christians.”

Louisa is convinced that God put her in the Lindt cafe for a reason and is committed to faithfully sharing her experience at churches as a speaker, and continuing her work as Patron of the Louisa Hope Fund for Nurses, and now also the Nepean Hospital Foundation as well.

“That was the experience God gave me. So I will use it and wring it out to death until I know that I have got everything out of it.”

 

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