As the harrowing drama at Lindt Cafe in Sydney unfolded on Monday, Australians turned the crisis into their finest hour, offering fellowship with Muslims who might have felt their safety was at risk as a consequence of the event.
They took to social media to express their support for members of the Islamic faith amid fears that the hostage incident could fuel anti-Muslim sentiments in the community.
A gun-wielding man held hostage customers and staff at Lindt Cafe in the central business district on Monday morning. Around 16 hours later, police stormed the place and killed the attacker identified as Man Haron Monis, an Iranian who was on bail facing a number of charges. Two of the hostages died.
Twitter user Tessa Kum (@sirtessa) noticed that her fellow passenger, a Muslim woman, quietly removed her head covering while almost everyone on the bus was talking about the news or monitoring it on their smartphones.
Addressing Muslims who might be taking her regular bus and feeling afraid that their religious clothing could attract negative response, Tessa tweeted: “wear religious attire, & don’t feel safe alone: I’ll ride with you”.
Speaking to ABC, she said: “It just seemed that a simple way of promoting kindness would be to say if anybody catching public transport didn’t feel comfortable just because of what they were wearing, I would sit next to them, so they weren’t alone.”
The “I’ll ride with you” hashtag was picked up by her 3,183 followers, and soon went viral across Twitterland.
Fellow Aussies, carrying the same hashtag, offered lifts to work, even pledges of friendship and protection, to Muslims who might feel threatened.
As it is in social media, even Twitter users from other countries jumped on it and spread the hashtag worldwide.
In a matter of hours, more than 100,000 tweets and status updates carried the #illridewithyou hashtag, turning the hostage crisis into a movement of compassion and tolerance for all faiths, Mail Online reports.
“It was when my phone wouldn’t stop vibrating that I realized it was going well beyond me,” Tessa was quoted as saying.
“The compassion of everyday Australian’s should NEVER b underestimated..#illridewithyou is the perfect example of why this is a great nation!’ said one Twitter user.
“#illridewithyou because *every* race, belief and culture has some foolish people, but more who are honest, smart and caring,” another tweeted.
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