Social media is proving its worth once again in Sydney Australia; where over the past 17 hours, a cafe in Sydney Australia has been under siege.
Lone gunman Sheikh Man Haron Monis has been holding hostages at the Lindt Café on Martin Place since 10am local time. An outspoken radical, Haron is believed to have ties to Muslim extremist organisations such as ISIS.
Sadly, this has sparked some anti-Muslim sentiment across the city. And while many members of religious minorities might fear a bigoted knee-jerk reaction towards them in public, Sydney citizens refuse to allow their city to fall into this trap.
With the hashtag #illridewithyou (coined by Twitter user @sirtessa), Australia is getting behind its minority population and ensuring their comfort and safety in public. Citizens are using the hashtag to offer to accompany nearby Muslims and other minorities on their commute through the city, to prevent any racially-motivated abuse.
Maybe start a hashtag? What’s in #illridewithyou?— Sir Tessa (@sirtessa) December 15, 2014
The hashtag has since been trending worldwide throughout the duration of the siege, which has recently ended after police stormed the Lindt Café where hostages were being held. People worldwide have also adopted the hashtag not just to offer help, but to show their solidarity towards the innocent bystanders who may receive prejudiced treatment by association.
It is unfortunate that the actions of one person can often affect public judgement, and spark racial profiling of a much larger and peaceful fraction of people - as has frequently been the case in the United States and United Kingdom since the events of 9/11.
But while the actions of this lone attacker in Sydney are on a significantly smaller scale, the overwhelming response of comfort from those in Australia is setting a great example, that hopefully many others in the world will take inspiration from.
Sending love to everyone in Sydney. Real proud of my Aussie pals for #illridewithyou. I envy your mateship. Stay strong <3— Connor Manning (@AConnorManning) December 15, 2014