Maelbeek Metro: After the Terror, the Journey Continues
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.”