On a day filled with terror and hate comes a simple, sweet and beautifully poignant message of love.
This afternoon, a woman called Rachael posted on social media about an experience she’d had on a Sydney train.
Sitting beside her was a Muslim woman, who was silently removing her hijab. She didn’t want outward signs of her religion to show for fear of misplaced retaliation from commuters about the hostage situation in Martin Place, Sydney.
Rachael ran after the woman at the next stop and said reassuringly “put it back on, I will walk with you”. The Muslim woman instantly burst into tears, hugged Rachael and then walked off alone.
Today, Australia’s Muslim community joins with the rest of our nation as we sit in horror, glued to our television screens and wishing, hoping, praying for the safety of the hostages trapped inside the Lindt Cafe.
Like all Australians, they are wondering what might be going through the trapped people’s minds, feeling emotional that this could be happening in our own backyard and hoping the hostages escape without harm. Muslims have invited all Australians to pray with them at mosques around the country, in a show of solidarity with the hostages and their families.
But none of this matters to those who wish to blame the events of today on Australian Muslims and the great goals of multiculturalism.
There are those who will take out their anger and fear on the Muslim community. There are those who will blindly scare and terrify even more people, in the misguided belief that they are making some sort of point about the kind of Australia they want to live in.
There are those who will yell at, swear at, physically intimidate or attack and abuse peace-loving Muslims who are simply going about their daily business. There are those who will target their homes and places of worship.
And then there are people like Rachael, who won’t stand for that behaviour.
Following Rachael’s moving lead, many of us have taken to social media to express our willingness to travel on public transport with members of the Muslim community anywhere in Australia who are feeling vulnerable or who have experienced abuse or intimidation in the wake of the Sydney siege.
The “I’ll ride with you” hashtag is a peaceful symbol of opposition to today’s terror situation; a beautiful way to show that the efforts of a violent evil minority will not break apart the Australian community.
We will not turn on each other.
We will not give terror organisations what they want.
We will not show hate towards the peace loving Muslims beside whom we work, study and play each day.
Take a look at the beautiful messages flooding social media. And if you are catching public transport tomorrow morning, please add your voice: