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#illridewithyou Social Media spreading Tolerance and Peace

On December 15th, 2014, Today, Australians and the world woke up to news spreading about what is dubbed the #SydneySiege where a suspected Islamic fanatic is taking an unconfirmed number of hostages in a local café in downtown Sydney displaying a black flag typically associated with Al Qaeda and other Islamist terrorist groups. At the beginning, this seemed like a nightmare for every muslim in Australia. #Illridewithyou came as a heartwarming response to the madness.

What we know so far is that a gunman is holding staff and customers hostage at a cafe in Sydney, Australia. The Lindt cafe in the city centre is surrounded by armed police. Officers have made contact with the gunman and his requests and motivation for this stint are still unknown.

According to BBC, Five people have been seen running from the building. It is not clear how many remain inside. A black Islamic flag has been displayed at the window.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott declared that it was “profoundly shocking” that people were being “held hostage by an armed person claiming political motivation.” He was speaking after chairing a meeting of the national security committee in Canberra. He added “Australia is a peaceful, open and generous society – nothing should ever change that and that’s why I would urge all Australians today to go about their business as usual.”

While our thoughts and prayers at NoBullying are with the hostages, their families and the brave police squad handling the unfolding situation as this goes live, our hearts are more than warm on this cold Monday.

Following news of this situation, social media outlets burst with anti Islam sentiments and promising the Muslim community in Australia violence and “unsafe” existence in retaliation.

Now you are thinking, social media is a platform for inciting violence. But to our amazement and appreciation, T essa Kum, a TV content editor and writer who lives in Sydney tweeted saying “If you reg take the #373 bus b/w Coogee/MartinPl, wear religious attire, & don’t feel safe alone: I’ll ride with you. @ me for schedule.”

The idea was inspired by this heartbreaking story spreading over Facebook following the café siege.

In less than two hours #illridewithyou is now the top hashtag trending worldwide filled with tweets and posts by Australians promising to take a ride tomorrow morning with any member of the Muslim community feeling unsafe amidst the tension escalating and asking fellow Muslim Australians to wear their traditional Muslim attire with no fear simply because, Australia is riding with them to and from work.

In a world sadly filled with terrorism, cyber bullying, online threats and intolerance, the entire online community of Australia is rallying up to spread positivity and tolerance despite the Sydney Siege, proving it takes a few words to incite violence and the same number of words to spread peace.


Click on this link to follow #illridewithyou on Twitter.

Update: Australian Commandos have stormed the cafe, ending a 16 hour siege. Two victims died along with the gunman. Those who died are Lindt cafe manager Tori Johnson, 34, and lawyer Katrina Dawson, 38, barrister and mother of three children. Four people were injured, including a policeman hit by shotgun pellets.

Our thoughts and prayers at NoBullying are with the family and loved ones of the victims. 

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