#illridewithyou started as a reaction to the horrific events earlier this week, with innocent people held hostage by Man Haron Monis, in Sydney, AU. The siege ended with two victims dead and the death of the gunman, who died later in the hospital.
Monis made hostages hold flags with the shahada, which is, as The Guardian states, “an Islamic affirmation of the oneness of God.” Also, Monis had a history of sending offensive letters to the families of dead Australian soldiers, not to mention the possible hand he played in the murder of his wife. Monis was also shunned from the country’s Shia Islamic population, who wanted the authorities to investigate Monis due to his claims of being an ayatollah, or a Shia cleric.
However, it’s important to note that the authorities do not consider him to be a part of a larger terrorist organization. Manny Conditsis, Monis’ former lawyer, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in so many words that the siege Monis pulled is related to Monis alone and no one else. “This is a one-off random individual,” he said. “It’s not a concerted terrorism event or act. It’s a damaged goods individual who’s done something outrageous.”
Of course, even though Monis isn’t affiliated with a terrorist organization, there was still the fear that racism and prejudice towards Muslims would be on the rise after this attack. Instead, Australians took to Twitter and denounced such thoughts with #illridewithyou.
— 18millionrising (@18millionrising) December 17, 2014
Let’s not be clicktivists only but #illridewithyou activists….this may well be our finest communitarian hour.
— FatherBob (@FatherBob) December 15, 2014
— Sydney Alliance (@sydneyalliance) December 20, 2014
— Adam Bandt (@AdamBandt) December 17, 2014
The first tweet features a story by Rachel Jacobs, a lecturer at Australia Catholic University. Her story she shared in the tweets is what inspired Tessa Kum, a Sydney television content editor, to create the hashtag in the first place. But after it was revealed that Jacobs made the story up, there’s probably some questioning as to whether the emotions provoked by others from the hashtag are “real,” as it were. Well, the story might be fake, but I would hasten to say that at least the story brought people together with the common goal of recognizing everyone’s humanity.
In Space Jam, Michael Jordan gives the Looney Tunes basketball team a special drink to make them successfully win against the Monstars. But as it turns out, the drink was just water. To paraphrase Jordan in the film, “You had it in you all along.” Of course, that’s a silly example, but it proves a point — stuff might be fake, but sometimes, the reactions it provokes can be something everyone can learn from.
Screengrab of CNN, from Twitter