Sydney siege: Onlookers taking selfies near cafe spark outrage

Onlookers gather in Martin Place in the central business district of Sydney on Dec 15, 2014. New South Wales police commissioner Andrew Scipione praised the Sydney public for its calm and cooperative reaction to the lockdown of part of the city'
Onlookers gather in Martin Place in the central business district of Sydney on Dec 15, 2014. New South Wales police commissioner Andrew Scipione praised the Sydney public for its calm and cooperative reaction to the lockdown of part of the city's CBD, but a storm raged on social media on Monday over whether onlookers were behaving badly. -- PHOTO: AFP

SYDNEY - New South Wales police commissioner Andrew Scipione praised the Sydney public for its calm and cooperative reaction to the lockdown of part of the city's CBD, but a storm raged on social media on Monday over whether onlookers were behaving badly.

It was all about selfies.

The Sydney Morning Herald noted that three smiling men posed in front of police tape marking off the exclusion zone around the ongoing hostage situation in the Lindt cafe in Martin Place.

Britain's Daily Mail Online labelled it "Selfie Shame" with a report people were uploading smiling selfies of themselves on Twitter from as close as possible to where the hostage siege was taking place, some making the photos seem authentic by standing near TV crews covering the siege.

None were close to the cafe itself which was well behind police barriers.

Then there were the people making jokes on Twitter about death by Lindt chocolate. Some, self-consciously, even added the hashtag #toosoon.

Their Tweets caused a furious response, according to the newspapers: The Mail quoted one saying "Awful, do they not have any feelings. People are being held hostage and all they can do is take a selfie."

It quoted another saying "I love a selfie, but how is this ok?"

The Herald quoted another Tweet that said "If you really want a selfie how about you offer to trade places with a hostage," while a photo of two blonde women said to be 100 metres from the Lindt cafe was shared hundreds of times and condemned as "appalling" and "disrespectful".