Brussels Bombings

A description of the terrorist events in Brussels from the perspective of a Globe reporter in France.

Samantha Zeid, Page Editor

An inundating feeling of anxiety swept over me as I looked out from the hotel window with the Eiffel Tower peeking over the Parisian rooftops. I felt a sense of panic as people flooded in and out of the train station. The constant hustle and bustle is perhaps just a part of the Parisian daily routine, but the tense air seemed unusual as I watched with the news station blaring behind me.

The phone rang and I knew exactly who was calling. There was a sense of panic in my father’s voice and I was afraid that he wouldn’t want us to stay in Europe. I reluctantly passed the phone to my mom, my eyes glancing out the window at the Metro I was just warned not to take. I was scared, yet I felt that there was no where else I wanted to be instead of here.

Flashing back to that morning, I remember hearing the French news station announce that explosions were beginning to be heard in Brussels. I felt myself tensing, suitcases and croissants in hand.  My mother was already halfway out the door of our hotel room in Nice, but we both hesitated and looked at each other, not quite knowing what this meant or could mean.

The key suspect of the Paris attack had just been detained and unrest by his supporters was feared, and now apparent. I was already apprehensive that a terrorist attack was looming even before I heard of the explosions, but now my suspicion had been confirmed. I wasn’t alone in my worries. It seemed that the French people were expecting something, they just didn’t know when or where.

The peaceful atmosphere of pastel colored buildings and sandy beaches seemed safe, yet I continued to head towards the TGV station, ticket to Paris in hand, knowing that I was leaving the calm Mediterranean water and closer to the eye of the storm.

After five and a half hours without WiFi, I was somewhat clueless as to what had happened when we finally reached Paris. In fact, it wasn’t until I got into a taxi that I learned about the Brussels attacks. I saw the driver look into his rearview mirror and I detected a certain solemnity, and his voice lowered when he explained the damage that was done.

Over the course of my trip, I had many conversations with drivers about their fear. When they found out I spoke French, they completely opened up, as if they felt they could share their feelings with me since I was in some way connected to their culture. They all had the same look in their eyes as they peered into the rearview mirror, wanting to make eye contact as they discussed something so grave. They would mention how the city as one was fearful, yet they were strong. However since each person said that, I could gather that they didn’t want to admit defeat.

No one wanted to surrender their culture. The French are fiercely proud of their lifestyle and no one wanted to let the dangers of an attack change the way they lived. They didn’t carry themselves in a manner of fear, yet everyone knew it was there.

Throughout the city, police and army guards carried large machine guns and always stayed in groups. They surrounded the Eiffel Tower and gathered by the banks of the Seine. I immediately contrasted the city with the peacefulness of Nice. Paris looked like it was ready for battle, beautiful as always yet prepared to defend itself.

This was necessary, of course–but rather than feeling a sense of comfrot, I felt concerned. Whenever I saw large groups of police, I instinctively wondered what was on the brink of happening. My mind was constantly racing. Perhaps I was becoming a little paranoid, but understandably so.

On the last night of my stay, I looked out over the city from the top of the Eiffel Tower. Paris glistened with peaceful lights and the tower shone fiercely throughout the night, bearing the red, brlack, and yellow colored lights to represent the Belgian flag. There was a sense of unity between Europeans, but also of the world.

The flag was a symbol, an act of courage against terror.

A few weeks passed, and there is a new headline on the news, this time in English. The terror attack that occurred in Brussels was originally planned for Paris, but French investigators had learned about the plans when they were already in the advanced stages. The first thought that popped into my head was: that could have been me. I retraced my steps in my mind, thinking of all the places that I had been to and what could have happened. While I was there, I felt that everywhere I went could have been a target. Now, I know that I was almost right.

The attacks in Europe have made the malevolence in the world clear, but the French, Belgians and the world as a whole did not and will not let that evil plunge us into darkness. ⎫

Demonstrators gather at a Brussels Attacks memorial site.Zuma Press