As Australians anxiously awaited the outcome of a hostage crisis in a Sydney cafe, thousands on social media made sure that Muslims in the country knew they wouldn’t be left alone to deal with the fallout.
Australians are telling telling their Muslim neighbors in religious dress that they don’t need to be afraid of dealing with Islamophobia on their own in the coming days, promising to ride with them on buses and trains -- or even give them a lift to work.
The campaign sprouted online after Australians woke up on Tuesday morning to find out that an Iranian-born man identified as Haron Manis was holding people hostage inside the Lindt Chocolate Cafe in downtown Sydney. Armed police have since stormed the cafe.
The #IllRideWithYou movement began after a Facebook user named Rachael Jacobs wrote about seeing a woman remove her hijab while sitting on the train, according to BBC.
“I ran after her at the train station. I said 'put it back on. I'll walk with u'. She started to cry and hugged me for about a minute - then walked off alone,’” Rachel wrote.
The story touched Tessa Kum, a Sydney-based writer known on Twitter as @sirtessa. She tweeted out an offer to ride next to anyone wearing religious garb.
Kum told Buzzfeed that although #IllRideWithYou is a small act, she hopes it will make a difference for someone one day.
"My thoughts are with those involved, who will be affected for so long to come, and those uninvolved, who are being blamed none the less," Kum wrote. "For those of us watching; we live in this world. We aren’t bystanders. We aren’t helpless."
The #IllRideWithYou hashtag is still trending on Twitter, with people chiming in from all over the world.