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Selfies, Uber Gouging, and #IllRideWithYou: The Scene Around the Australian Hostage Situation

Submitted by on December 15, 2014 – 9:32 am3 Comments


A gunman claiming some sort of jihadist motivation took hostage a coffee shop in Sydney, Australia on Monday morning. As the early hours of Tuesday come in that country, police still hope to safely resolve the situation.

Five hostages have managed to escape, with an estimated 15 remaining.

The man had hostages hold up a black flag with Arabic script on it. According to the BBC, it is a flag used by many jihadist groups, including Al Qaeda and Islamic State, but that it is not the official flag of either group. There appears to be only a single attacker, and his connection to larger groups is unsubstantiated.

The area around the shop, in Sydney’s busy financial center, has been evacuated by police.

The entire country has responded to the situation in widely varying ways. The hashtag #IllRideWithYou was trending worldwide on Twitter as of Monday (morning, EST), a message to Australian Muslims who feared reprisal attacks when riding public transit. Australians have also held interfaith vigils as a show of solidarity.

On less positive notes, Australians have been angered as some have stopped to take selfies in the area of the hostage situation. Also, ride sharing company Uber was forced to backtrack and apologize after increasing prices in the area during the crisis. This isn’t the first time Uber’s dynamic pricing policy has made it appear to be profiteering from disasters.

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