Why Australians Are Telling Muslims, #illridewithyou, Amid Sydney Hostage Situation

Twitter hashtag blows up amid hostage situation in Sydney.

ByMEGHAN KENEALLY
December 15, 2014, 9:19 AM

— -- Hours after an armed gunman took control of a chocolate shop in Sydney, Twitter users did their best to show compassion in the face of the standoff.

The exact motive of the gunman, or his affiliation with any specific group, remained a mystery -- but after hostages were seen putting up a black flag with Arabic writing, some saw it as a message that the situation was related to religious extremism.

Islamic leaders in Australia condemned the attack, but it was the action of other Australians that really stood out to others online.

The Twitter hashtag "#illridewithyou" appears to have started after user @SirTessa offered to ride public transportation alongside anyone wearing religious garments who feared that they would be harassed or singled out as a result of the hostage situation.

Here are some of the best tweets showing the origins of the trend, how quickly it spread and some of the best responses:

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