Anti-Terror March in Brussels Attracts Thousands

On Sunday, an anti-terror march took place in Brussels, Belgium, nearly a month after the attacks by suicide bombers that killed 32 people and injured over 300.

According to The Guardian, the crowd was marching “against terror and hate” and was made up of a diverse array of people. They included victims of the attack and their families, as well as politicians, city officials, families, retirees, and even a few vendors selling waffles. These people also represented many different religions.

The Boston Globe reported that were around 6,500 people participating in the march which went near the Molenbeek neighborhood, where many of the suspects in both the Brussels attack and the 2015 Paris attacks lived. People were urged not to wear backpacks, and no incidents have been reported.

“The processions made their way to Brussels’ old stock exchange at Place de la Bourse, which has become a makeshift memorial for the victims,” said Jennifer Rankin, of The Guardian, who also reported that the marchers walked in silence, while some waved Belgian flags.

Rankin continued, “People added flowers to the now withering bunches and marked a minute’s silence.”

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They also held signs that read “Against Terror and Hatred” and “Against Racism, Terrorism.” A Muslim group held a sign that read “Love is my religion and my faith.”

Organizers of this anti-terror march were hoping for around 15,000 people to show up, but the turnout was less than half of that, according to BBC News. It was initially planned for the week following the attacks in the Belgian capital, but was rescheduled because of a security threat.

“When our fellow citizens, defenseless civilians, are cut down in a cowardly attack, all citizens should stand up to express their disgust and solidarity,” said Hassan Bousetta, one of the march’s organizers.

He continued, “It is a moment of reflection, a message of compassion for the victims and a moment when citizens come together.”

Meabh McMahon, of France 24, was reporting on the march and noted that there was “an atmosphere of solidarity in the city.”

“We’re all united, we’re all against hatred and racism,” said McMahon.

RT reported that Belgium’s Prime Minister Charles Michel met with families of the victims following the anti-terror march, and Siegfried Bracke, President of Belgium’s Chamber of Representatives was also present.

“We wanted to show that we are not afraid and we love our city,” said Anaïs Maes, a teacher. “There is no way of protecting fully against terrorism, that is the definition of terrorism, it is unnecessary to have the security measures we have now because [the threat] is not going to stop.”

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Sunday’s anti-terror march came following Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jimbon’s controversial comments on Muslims. He alleged that many Muslims danced when the attack in Brussels occurred, as reported by DW.

“Terrorists we can pick up, remove from society. But they are just a boil,” said Jimbon. “Underneath is a cancer that is much more difficult to treat. We can do it, but it won’t be overnight.”

“We must stop stigmatizing communities, Jews, refugees and first of all, the Muslim community,” said Alexis Deswaef, president of the League for Human Rights, who attended the anti-terror march.

In the aftermath of the attack, Jambon and Justice Minister and Koen Gees offered to resign, but the offers were rejected.

However, The Atlantic reported that Belgium’s Transport Minister Jacqueline Galant, resigned from her position on April 15. It was revealed that she allegedly ignored several warnings about Zaventem Airport’s security flaws and failed to prevent a strike by air-traffic controllers.

“As for the political reaction to terrorism, in my view Belgium has a better record than France,” said Natalie Nougayrede of The Guardian. “In France, by contrast – despite two massive terrorist strikes within a year – no official has stepped down.”

[Photo by Virginia Mayo/AP Photo]