- The Washington Times - Monday, December 15, 2014

Thousands of Australians are tweeting the hashtag #illridewithyou in support of the Muslim community after an Islamic State sympathizer took several people hostage at a Sydney chocolate shop.

Police stormed the downtown Lindt chocolate cafe Tuesday where a gunman had been holding an unknown number of people hostage for more than 16 hours. An Islamic State flag was reportedly raised in the shop’s window during the crisis, stoking fears among Sydney’s Muslim community.

More than 40 Muslim groups condemned the siege, saying in a statement that they rejected “any attempt to take the innocent life of any human being or to instil fear and terror into their hearts,” the Agence France-Presse reported.

An Australian woman started the #illridewithyou campaign to show solidarity with Muslims who might feel targeted on public transportation.

“#373 bus between Coogee & Martin Place. #illridewithyou @ me if you just want to wear your headdress & not be bothered,” @sirtessa tweeted.

Within hours, #illridewithyou became one of the top Twitter trends with more than 40,000 tweets, AFP reported.

Another user in South Australia wrote, “If you wear religious attire, & need to get from #Adelaide’s west suburbs to the city on Tues but don’t want to travel alone #illridewithyou.”

Australia’s race discrimination commissioner Tim Soutphommasane said he was touched by the campaign, adding: “let’s not allow fear, hatred and division to triumph,” AFP reported.

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