OPINION: why it's too soon to talk terrorism

Man Monis, also known as Sheik Haron leaves the Downing Centre Local Court in central Sydney in 2010.
Man Monis, also known as Sheik Haron leaves the Downing Centre Local Court in central Sydney in 2010.

WHO knows what was going on in the head of Man Haron Monis when he walked into a Sydney cafe early on Monday with a gun in his hand?

Was the 50-year-old about to commit an act of terrorism or was he making a selfish violent protest about the cards life had dealt him?

What we do know is the obsessively ideological, self-styled Muslim cleric had a grudge against the court system and a lengthy criminal history.

Monis's extensive crime background included 50 allegations of sexual assault and a conviction for sending horrible and offensive letters to the families of Aussie soldiers killed in Afghanistan.

He had also been charged in relation to the murder of his ex-wife Noleen Hayson Pal.

And now we can add to that list the death of two innocent people; the injuring of four others; hostage-taking, bringing Australia's biggest city to a stand-still for more than 16 hours; the destruction of a country's peace; and entering our history books for a shockingly heinous act.

Sydney lawyer Manny Conditsis, who represented Monis when he faced court over Ms Pal's death, described him as "damaged goods".

"His ideology is just so strong and so powerful that it clouds his vision for common sense and objectiveness," Mr Conditsis told the ABC.

As we come to terms with the loss of 34-year-old Lindt cafe manager Tori Johnson - who unconfirmed reports suggest died trying to take the gun from Monis's hands - and barrister and mum Katrina Dawson, it is vital for every one of us to take a step back and wait for the full story to unfold.

We cannot jump to conclusions - especially the ones that contain the word terrorism.


Because we simply do not know what was motivating Monis as he walked into the Martin Place cafe on Monday morning.

It is also important we put his cultural background to the side.

We should not brush a broad stroke across the Muslim community because of one man's actions - they are not the fault of his family, his neighbours or his brethren.

We should support the families of Monis's victims and his own family, because he too had people who loved and cherished him.

Most importantly, we should embrace the lessons that flow from our black Monday and move purposefully toward a time when the Monises of this world find a less destructive way to vent their rage.