Today marks the first birthday of the Brussels bombings. A birthday without candles, wishes and presents will be held at the Schuman square in Brussels. Exactly one year ago terrorists carried out a bomb attack as an attempt to hit the civilians and staff members of the Brussels airport and the metro station. This tragic event cost diverse human lives.
Can the attacks in the Belgian capital be forgotten or even justified? Has the attitude and feelings of the Belgians changed ever since?
Shari Boulanger (21) – Journalism Student
The young Journalism student was in tears when she heard the news for the first time. ‘When a friend broke the news I was overwhelmed with grief and animosity. Tears started rolling down my face and landed on my lap where a substantial puddle of water had nestled. At that precise moment I felt for all the victims and their siblings. I imagined how hard it would be to loose a relative in such a destructive event’, recounts Shari.
According to Shari a lot has changed since the bombings. ‘Military forces are everywhere. On the streets, in the malls, at some schools, everywhere. It is nearly impossible to ignore their presence’, says the Journalism apprentice.
The student remembers that crowds of people showed their support through various ways. They expressed their anger and sorrow on social media, television and at the radio. ‘It was close to home, so I admit that the aftermath of the Brussels bombings had a bigger impact on me than the other assaults in neighboring countries. I have the feeling that Belgians in general are more frightened than before. But the million dollar question is : how will the situation evolve in the near future ? Nobody can predict the future, not even psychics but I believe that we are not walking the path of peace. We cannot prevent these things from happening’, affirms Shari.
Even though the attacks have scarred her, she puts up a brave face. ‘I still dare to travel by plane because I believe in destiny. If a bomb goes off whilst I’m around, then it’s my fate. The attacks haven’t stopped me from carrying on with my day to day life’, explains Shari.
Joren Michiels (19) – Computer Science student
Joren thinks that many held the politicians responsible for the tragedy. They had to cope with the accusations. ‘The public and media pointed politicians out as the ones who created an issue that led to the unthinkable. Politicians were regarded as traitors who didn’t take measures to stop the growing radicalism from spreading’, explains the student.
The undergraduate was crushed by the news of the serious criminal offence. ‘It is not something we can erase from our minds and optical retina’s. Those gruesome memories stay for a lifetime. It is an unpleasant reminder that the clock is ticking for each and every one of us. Your whole world can change in a blink of an eye. I came to that realization when I saw the news about the bombings. But we all have to move on without forgetting the past’, says Joren.
Joren firmly believes that the media exaggerated the involvement of the islamic community in the attacks. ‘The impact of the bombings has been greatly overstated. But I guess journalists were just doing their job’, says the pupil.
The interview ended on a positive note. He thinks that we need to overcome the problem as a united nation. ‘Together we are strong’, affirms Joren.
Godspraise (21) – International media and communication management student
Godspraise knows for a fact that the attacks generated a lot of hate which has redirected towards the Muslims.’Discrimination against the population from the maghreb should change. I see that the situation has worsened since the Brussels attacks. Numerous people can’t see any further than the end of their nose and blame the Muslim community for this discomfort. This should stop. Our society must accept and try to help these young individuals who are struggling with themselves’, says the undergraduate.
Her visits to the Brussels Airport have been subsequent to the attacks. But she evokes that there was an atmosphere of gloom and despair. ‘I’ve been to the airport and I found it strange. The impression I had when I realized I was standing at a place where a lot of people lost their lives was bizarre. When I paused for a minute and looked around, I saw vacationers and staff members walking past me as if nothing had happened’, recalls Godspraise.