Brussels: a city recovering from terror

Brussels, Belgium. Photo Credit: Fabian Rosdalen (flickr)

“There is an unassuming, quietly defiant attitude in Brussels”

Brussels, Belgium. Photo Credit: Fabian Rosdalen (flickr)

Today marked the first anniversary of the Brussels bombings – the deadliest terror attack in Belgium’s history. The attacks -claimed by ISIS-struck Zaventem airport and the Maelbeek metro station, claiming 32 lives.

Philippe, the King of Belgium, laid a wreath in honor of the victims at the international airport – the site of the first bombing – this morning. The second bomb in Maelbeek went off in the heart of the EU district in the city center. EU offices across the continent also held a minute silence in honor of their fallen colleagues.

Remembrance days like these are fast becoming the new norm. But how do cities like Brussels recover from such traumatic events? A week before Christmas I traveled to the Belgian capital and asked locals how the city has changed since the morning of the 22nd of March 2016.

Suzanne Schultz, who works in the EU district for the European Commission – and was near the site of the second bomb- spoke about the aftermath : “There’s a certain anxiety, even though people take the metro. But I do feel – generally speaking- [that] there’s an anxiety…Whenever something is happening in the world, I have the impression that people are anxious. But they tend to group more together.”

At the Christmas market,  I spoke to Gustave VanderHelst about the new realities in the city:” We find ourselves in a situation where there is a constant military presence in the city for the past nine month” said the law student .”It’s become routine. Even though it’s not normal, it doesn’t worry people anymore.”

A military presence and a certain unease have indeed been palpably evident in the city in the last 12 months. But above all else, there is an unassuming, quietly defiant attitude in Brussels; life as it was will resume. This defiant attitude, I’m sure, will also be abundantly visible in the coming days and weeks in the city of London.

The interviews conducted were part of the radio documentary, “Brussels: the Aftermath”, recorded between 18th and 21st December 2016.