#IllRideWithYou Is an Exercise In Viral Empathy

Australians offer Muslims company during their commutes in the wake of the Sydney siege.

As it was revealed that the gunmen holding victims hostage at an Australian chocolate shop were possibly linked to Islamic State militants, Australian Muslims on Twitter expressed fears of retaliation from angered Australians. On Facebook, a woman named Rachel Jacobs wrote that she witnessed a Muslim woman on the train silently remove her hijab (headscarf) as news of the hostage situation spread. “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,” wrote Jacobs.

In response, non-Muslim Australians began offering their company to Muslims taking public transport. Twitter user Tessa Kum was the first to do so, and began tweeting her support with the hashtag #IllRideWithYou. “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,” she tweeted. It wasn’t long before thousands of Australians were partaking in the campaign, posting their bus and train routes and offering rides to Muslim neighbors. Within a day, over 90,300 tweets had been posted with the hashtag.