WATCH: Citizen ‘heroes’ stop deadly Australian knife rampage

Authorities said the woman was in a stable condition. (AFP)
Updated 13 August 2019

WATCH: Citizen ‘heroes’ stop deadly Australian knife rampage

  • Media broadcast showed the attacker jumping on a roof of a car
  • One of the witnesses said the attacker looked like he could have blood on his chin and chest

SYDNEY: A knife-wielding man killed one person and attempted to stab several others in a central Sydney rampage Tuesday before being chased and pinned down by members of the public, witnesses told AFP.

Police said a 21-year-old Sydney man with a history of mental illness is believed to have killed a woman of around the same age in a residential unit before going on the rampage across the city center.

The following video shows of the attacker being captured by members of the public contains language that some may find offensive.

New South Wales police commissioner said he had no known links to terror organizations, but he did have a thumb drive with details of mass-casualty white-supremacist attacks in the United States and New Zealand.

Witness Megan Hales told AFP she saw a man brandishing a large kitchen knife chasing several people through the busy central business district shortly after lunchtime.

A 41-year-old woman who was stabbed is now said to be in a stable condition.

“Five or six others were chasing him behind, trying to stop him, they caught him and restrained him” in front of two popular cafes in the heart of the city, Hales said.

Four of the pursuers were Colombian-born Alex Roberts, and Britons Lee Cuthbert and brothers Paul and Luke O’Shaughnessy — all colleagues at a recruitment consultancy who raced from their fourth-floor office to the street.

“We’ve opened the window and seen the guy wielding a knife and jumping on the bonnet” of a nearby car, Paul O’Shaughnessy, a former professional footballer, told AFP.

Convinced it was a terrorist attack, his brother Luke — a champion Muay Thai boxer — led the chase.

“We all just ran down the building and chased him down the street,” said Roberts. “Everyone was kind of panicking, no one really knew what was happening,” he said. “Not your normal Tuesday afternoon.”

Cuthbert said Luke, with the help of another man, “managed to get him down on to the floor and pin him down” with chairs and a plastic crate before police arrived.

“We’re a very, very close team, we’re a start-up recruitment company” he added. “We’re all brothers really, so when you see brothers running, your natural instinct is to go and follow.”

Police said despite indications the assailant shouted “Allahu Akbar” and “shoot me” it was not yet clear whether there was a political motive.

“It would appear at this stage it is unprovoked but we are keeping a very open mind as we move forward,” police spokesman superintendent Gavin Wood said, hailing the action of the bystanders.

“To approach a person... with clear evidence of a stabbing previously, these people are heroes.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison also praised the bravery of the onlookers.

“The attacker is now in police custody following the brave actions of those who were present at the scene and were able to able to restrain him,” he said in a tweet.

“Our thoughts are with all those who have been impacted by this violent attack.”


Jakarta literary festival aims to give a voice to the voiceless

Updated 22 August 2019

Jakarta literary festival aims to give a voice to the voiceless

  • The four-day festival features authors from the Middle East and Africa
  • The festival unites international authors with dozens of fellow writers from Indonesia

JAKARTA: The inaugural Jakarta International Literary Festival commenced on Tuesday evening with a focus on bringing together writers and literary works from the Global South. 

Festival Director Yusi Avianto Pareanom said that the organizer, the Literary Committee of the Jakarta Arts Council, wanted to emphasize the importance of creating balance in a discourse that has been dominated by work from the Global North.

The four-day festival features authors from the Middle East and Africa, such as Legodle Seganabeng from Botswana, Adania Shibli from Palestine, Bejan Matur from Turkey, Zainab Priya Dala from South Africa, Shenaz Patel from Mauritius, Momtaza Mehri from Somalia and many authors from Southeast Asian countries.

The festival unites international authors with dozens of fellow writers from Indonesia at the Taman Ismail Marzuki arts and cultural center in Jakarta between Aug. 20 and 24.  

“Our theme ‘Fence’ highlights that we want to unlock and deconstruct the barriers that separate us, so that these writers can get to know each other,” Yusi told Arab News. 

“From authors like Adania Shibli, we can enrich our knowledge about Palestine and its literary scene. There are plenty of ways to portray a situation. Through Shibli, we can get understand Palestine through its literary side.

“By featuring Bejan Matur, we know that there is another prominent Turk author apart from the world-renowned Orhan Pamuk,” he added. 

Shibli delivered her keynote speech titled “I am not to speak my language” at the opening of the festival, in which she described how the Israeli occupation has silenced Arabic-speaking Palestinians.

“The phenomenon of Palestinians taking refuge in silence whenever they are around Hebrew speakers in Palestine or Israel is not unfamiliar,” Shibli said.

She added that decades of military occupation had made speaking in Arabic a fraught experience. 

“Colonialism, however, does not only show contempt toward the colonized, their history and their culture by silencing them, but also toward their language,” she said.  

Shibli described how the nationality law, which the Israeli government passed in July 2018, strips Arabic of its designation as an official language and downgrades it to a special status. 

“Arabic was downgraded from a language into a threat a long time ago,” she added. 

Yusi said that what Shibli described in her speech is relevant to similar situations in other countries, including Indonesia. 

Multilingual Indonesia has more than 700 actively spoken local dialects, with 652 of them verified by the Ministry of Education and Culture. Many of the remaining dialects are in danger of dying out due to diminishing speakers, especially among the younger generation.