Egypt’s Grand Mufti Shawqi Allam released a statement Monday condemning the taking of hostages by an unknown militant in a café in Sydney, Australia.
The mufti said in his statement that “such an act of terror does not fall under the teachings of Islam, which calls for co-existence and peace”.
The mufti warned against “using this terrorist act to spread hatred towards Muslims” in Australia and elsewhere.
At least one gunman has held up to 30 hostages inside the Lindt Café in Sydney’s central business district. The hostages had been held since 9:45am local time inside the café. Five hostages, three males and two female Lindt waitresses, have since left the café, but whether they escaped or were released remains unknown.
The gunman forced two of those held in captivity to display a black flag with the Islamic creed (Shahada) written on it, which sparked fears of possible links to militant groups in the Middle East.
Armed police forces surrounded the location and are making all efforts to end the siege “peacefully” said Catherine Burn, deputy commissioner of the New South Wales Police to the media.
Different religious community leaders have gathered at the Lakemba Mosque in Sydney to pray for the hostages.
At the time of printing, the siege was still ongoing and there were no reported casualties.