March 20 is the International Day of Happiness, and I celebrated it with my on-line friends and communities. Then spring comes in Europe. And then, since 77 years, it’s my mother’s birthday. This yearly happy routine has been for ever broken this week, with the bombing of my airport and my subway station in Brussels, Europe. Spring will never come the same way for me.
No noxious taxi music here, a more appropriate Tube sound: pse play Manu Chao’s Infinita Tristeza from the album ‘Proxima Estaciòn: Esperanza’ (1999 – 3’ 56”) when reading this post.
What is worst is that terror and mayhem were brought upon Brussels by its own sons. This is high treason and that is what I would charge the terrorists with. According to Wikipedia, the fathers of the two better known takfiri, as Islam calls its apostates, Abdeslam and Abaaoud left the Mediterranean shores in their twenties to emigrate in Brussels, just like mine and some of yours, my dear readers.
Their sons were born in the same Brussels hospital as my sister and Abaaoud went to school in Uccle, 200 m from the European School that educated 2 generations of Clarotti.
They lived in Molenbeek, where Italian immigrates flocked in the late ‘60s and ‘70s. I went there in my teens to teach French to their kids in an Italian speaking parish.
Then the Italians opened shops and garages, and came the Moroccans. They strived to integrate, knew French and sent some of their kids to the parish to learn French with the Italian ‘Ritals’ (‘wops’ in local slang). Their mothers were a little concerned by the presence of the priests, but these were missionary worker-priests they could work with. These first immigrants were often thankful to the country which allowed them to live as free men and women, not as subjects or slaves. Today, in France, Belgium and England; and tomorrow maybe in Germany, the takfiri spreading Daesh terror are some of their sons or grandsons and, incredibly for me, a few of their grand-daughters.
After WWII, Belgium needed miners and Italians were traded for coal. They first settled in the barracks still warm of the recently repatriated German soldiers. Fifty years later their sons represent or are married to some 10% of the Belgian population. They have become the best-selling Belgian singer (Salvatore_Adamo) or captain of the Belgian football team (Enzo_Scifo). But the latest Prime Minister (Elio_Di_Rupo) and a trade union leader (Roberto_D’Orazio) are of Italian origin too. And so is the ‘inventor’ of the Erasmus scheme, European Commission former DG for education Domenico_Lenarduzzi.
In Belgium, Muslims now represent a similar 8% of the population, concentrated in the Capital where they are a fourth of the inhabitants (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_in_Belgium). Yet, the sons of Arab and African immigrants have not been so widely successful. True, many Belgian rappers are Muslim and 25% of the Top ranked Belgian football team observe Ramadan. But then, there’s Abdeslam. Why does Manchester United’s Marouane_Fellaini (born in Etterbeek in 1987, from a Moroccan father, just like Abdeslam) dreams of scoring a winning goal in this summer’s European Cup Final, in Paris Stade de France, whilst Abdeslam dreamed of bombing that same place?
In Belgium, there is no major Muslim politician or public figure, apart from a Regional minister for Culture and, now, Research, Fadila_Laanan, who was born in Schaerbeek, where the bombers hid their arsenal. The current French government has two top Muslim ministers: Najat_Vallaud-Belkacem prepares its future through research and education, whilst Myriam_El_Khomri is redesigning its labour law. True, immigration in France started 25 years earlier, but where are the grand-daughters of the Belgian Muslim migrants?
Why do most Brusselaers like me – as the local dialect mixing French and Dutch with Spanish vestiges calls locals – embrace and thrive in Brussels’ multicultural blend, approaching others with their polyglot skills, like Papa Jean Marie, the local policeman speaking in tongues; whilst other Brusselaers, with a similar path, hate non similars and want to impose their relinazi views through violence and terror?
I still have no clear answer yet to the three questions above, so please help me dear readers and post your comments on this Blogactiv post.
Finally, I would just like to share with you a last piece of evidence spurred by a WhatsApp chat with one of my teenage crushes. Upon hearing of the bombing she poked me. I poked back that I was safe and wrote that, after 70 years of peace, it was time for Europe to suffer some of the consequences of the wars stirring its neighbourhood. I was wrong.
The graph above this post shows that this decade still is a safe one for European citizens. In the ‘70s and in the ‘80s 400 to 500 Europeans were killed by terrorists, mostly of European origin. The IRA got the premiership, closely followed by Spanish ETA and Italian Red and Black brigades. Contrary to football, the German RAF was not as competitive in this Terror League.
At the end of the millennium, European police and intelligence, its society and politicians, its religious leaders and public figures mobilised to quell terrorism, with ‘my’ Commission playing a key role in Ireland, through the aptly named ‘Peace partnership‘. The same receipt, modernised through social media, involving multilateral stakeholders and culture dialogue should strive to do the same by 2020.
So let’s keep calm and determined to, first quell the violence, capture and process these traitors to their Country and takfiri to their Faith. Then, let’s build more bridges rather than walls, because it’s on bridges that we can meet to talk and bridge our differences.
NoA – This post is private and personal. It does not represent views of the Commission for which I work. Re-publishing is possible under Copyleft principles. I would appreciate being informed and quoted.Eurobrat