On December 15th, Martin Place in Sydney, became a landmark that the rest of the world watched with interest and horror as events of a siege unfolded. A lone gunman, claiming his stand as a Muslim; and his actions as a response to Western actions across the oceans, raised a flag in the window of the Lindt café as he held several men and women hostage. The outcome was nothing short of a blood bath. Two innocents were shot dead; a mother of three and the café manager. The third death was the offender, Man Haron Monis, a self-styled sheik; after the police stormed the scene.
But it isn’t the attack on the innocent by a single crazed man that has lingered almost a month after the event. It isn’t the belief that Monis held that “society should behave in an Islamic manner and there should be justice.” It is the outpouring of support and humanity on the streets of Australia – not just in Sydney, but everywhere – that a hope remains for everyone to live in a peace and harmony with all neighbors, regardless of heritage in its broadest sense.
The Illridewithyou hashtag started shortly after a Sydney commuter witnessed a woman remove her hijab. Moved by the action, the commuter asked her to put it back on and that she will walk with her. Australians followed the hashtag quickly, standing in solidarity with Muslims in the country; worried about a potential back lash as the gunman was revealed to be Islamic.
Today the Illridewithyou hashtag is still being used, showcasing the kindness shared between Australians. Some have opted for taking the train to work rather than driving, to show their support for the Muslim community within Australia.
It restores a faith in humanity. It also restores a single hope that the general populations still refuse to recognize one single act as a sweeping generalization for the culture of which that person belongs. There are good people and those who aren’t. This hashtag states that heritage and religion have no place in dictating a person’s actions. Only the said person can be held accountable. It is their choice, their single belief and their act alone. Australians and the rest of the world are tired of religious and cultural difference as the excuse for conflict.