Yesterday, Man Haron Monis, a self-described extremist Muslim cleric, entered a Lindt Chocolat Cafe in Sydney, Australia and took all of the store’s occupants hostage. The siege ended just a few hours ago after police stormed the cafe.
As news spread that the hostage-taker was a Muslim, a coalition of Australian Muslim groups released a statement condemning the man’s actions.
“We reject any attempt to take the innocent life of any human being, or to instil fear and terror into their hearts,”
the statement said.
However, many Australian Muslims still worried that they might be targeted by people looking to retaliate for the hostage situation.
Then, late last night, something truly awesome happened: tens of thousands of Australians took to social media offering to accompany Muslims on their way to work to if they don’t feel safe.
The hashtag #illridewithyou quickly started to trend, with Australians letting people know what buses and trains they’d be riding and then offering to accompany any Muslims who would also be on those routes. Some people even offered lifts in their personal cars.
The hashtag represents a beautiful outpouring of tolerance and unity in response to a heinous act designed to cause division and animosity. Way to go Australia!
Marrickville to Wynyard 8:14am #illridewithyou
— Maree Hurley (@mareehurley) December 15, 2014
— Sharna Bremner (@sharnatweets) December 15, 2014
Australians offer to go with Muslim Australians in public places if they fear racist backlash #illridewithyou So much better than bigotry
— Julian Burnside (@JulianBurnside) December 15, 2014
More than happy to join the #IllRideWithYou initiative. T3 or T4 from Sydenham to city and return, daily.
— Jakkii Musgrave (@slybeer) December 15, 2014
I don't travel far each day. Redfern to Wynard on the red bus but #illridewithyou if you need me. Let's stamp out racism & harassment.
— RollerDerbyMum (@RollerDerbyMum) December 15, 2014
Did Christianity get blamed when Anders Breivik went cray cray? Nope. #illridewithyou
— Gareth Icke (@garethicke) December 15, 2014
— Twitter Australia (@TwitterAU) December 15, 2014
In another attempt to ease tensions and increase unity, a group of Muslim youth spent most of yesterday passing out flowers and bottles of water to Sydney residents.
— Mina (@mina_ysf) December 15, 2014