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Australians’ Beautiful Response to Tragedy

In the wake of a hostage situation in Australia, many Australians are standing up for what’s right and offering a hand to those who need it right now.

Australian hostage escapes into a policeman's arms
Credit: JASON REED

The financial district in Sydney, Australia, was on police lockdown for 16 hours beginning early on December 15, as a lone, armed assailant, Man Haron Monis, took an unknown number of hostages at a downtown café.  Few details are available about the state of the now-released hostages or the gunman, who was killed by police.

During the frenzy, the 50-year-old forced hostages to stand up against the windows of the café holding black flags with the Shahada (the Islamic declaration of faith) written on it, sparking fears that a radical Islamist terrorist attack was occurring.

While that was not the case–Monis, with a long criminal history, acted alone—a woman identified as Rachel Jacobs on Twitter says she saw a Muslim woman wearing religious garb on the train take off her hijab out of fear of harassment because of Monis’s actions. Jacobs says she ran after the woman and told her, “Put it back on. I’ll walk with you.”

Australians on Twitter responded to this heartfelt story in an amazing way, using the hashtag #ILLRideWithYou for any Muslim person who was afraid of being harassed on public transportation because of their religious garb. 

In a short while, the hashtag was trending worldwide, with people offering to walk, ride or drive fellow Australians to school or work. Beautiful messages of solidarity from fellow Australians poured out over Twitter, like this one:

“We are all Australians & we will not turn away from our Muslim brother, sisters, fathers, mothers, loved ones & friend #illridewithyou all.”

Our prayers are with the victims and all of Australia as they continue to support one another in remarkable ways in the face of tragedy.

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