Mael­beek Metro: Af­ter the Ter­ror, the Jour­ney Con­tin­ues

The Economic Times - - Around The World -

Brus­sels: The re­open­ing of Mael­beek metro sta­tion in the of­fice district of Brus­sels just over a month af­ter 16 peo­ple were killed here in a hor­rific ter­ror at­tack is a mo­ment of re­newed re­solve, hope and for­give­ness for Bel­gians, as ar­tic­u­lated by the mes­sages that filled a me­mo­rial wall at the en­trance.

On April 25 morn­ing, the Brus­sels pub­lic trans­port op­er­a­tor STIB-MIVB de­clared that all sta­tions, in­clud­ing Mael­beek, were open. By af­ter­noon, the me­mo­rial wall was adorned with mes­sages — of sol­i­dar­ity, hope and grief, writ­ten in the many lan­guages spo­ken in the Bel­gian cap­i­tal — from Ara­bic to French and English.

“What­ever hap­pened has hap­pened. We­can’tsto­pliv­ing.SoIam­back­onmy usual route and happy to be so,” Ju­lian told ET. She had taken the di­rect metro to work for years un­til the March 22 at­tack. While Ju­lian came back to show that “we are not scared,” a friend who sur­vived the at­tack did not turn up, not hav­ing taken the metro since.

The mes­sages re­flected what many in Bel­gium feel and say — that they are strong, united and for­giv­ing. “We for- give. Let­ting not the pain nor sor­row lead our life,” one read. One was a sim­ple line in French that read, “In mem­ory of my daugh­ter. Love you lots,” from some­one who signed off as ‘Papa.’

An­other ex­pressed con­tin­ued grief: “My Jo­hana — It has been said that time heals all wounds. The wounds re­main. In time, the mind cov­ers them with scars, tis­sue and the pain lessens, but it never goes. Love.”

How­ever, some is­sues re­main. Two miles away in Molen­beek, the sen­ti­ment is quite dif­fer­ent. The Mus­lim­dom­i­nated Brus­sels district is now widely seen as the hot­bed of ji­hadism in Europe.

Even as of­fi­cials try to un­der­stand whythey­outhofMolen­beekareget­ting rad­i­calised, the more im­me­di­ate is­sue ap­pears to be the refugee cri­sis cast­ing a shadow over Europe, an of­fi­cial of the Euro­pean Union deal­ing with some of th­ese mat­ters told ET on con­di­tion of anonymity.

“What’s hap­pen­ing is not good. What the­yare­doingis­go­ing­tomakeit­worse. Clos­ing borders to refugees is go­ing to ag­gra­vate the sit­u­a­tion. Th­ese are des­per­ate peo­ple and we are slam­ming doors on them,” said a per­son iden­ti­fied as Travidez, an Ital­ian whose grand­mother came to Bel­gium as a refugee 70 years ago.

Travidez scrib­bled a short mes­sage at the Mael­beek metro sta­tion wall with the peace sign: “We love you Brus­sels. Never again.”

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