author: Gabriella Arcifa
Brussels, November 21th - We, the young Europeans, didn’t really know the war until late this autumn, autumn that looks already like winter. It is a different war from the ones we studied in the history books, It is the war of terror. Brussels on November 21, at our wake up, under the first snow flakes, we heard that the city is controlled by police and manned by soldier patrols. They are searching for terrorists.
This people, young people like us, between 20 and 30 years, were born and educated in Europe, just like us.
The media says that in Molenbeek the searches are still continuing and the houses are rounded up one by one. Many people were arrested, others are underway. A small arsenal of weapons, including chemical was founded. And now, while we are reading news from the Belgian National Crisis Centre, it is worth remembering that we are here in Bruxelles "pour l’Europe unie" and that we are not at all discouraged!
Coming from different European cities, we started on November 12, our project "Be Ready 4 EU", organized by the Association Europe HOpes. We are 10 young European citizens, interested in understanding the European Union functioning and inform the European citizens about how and if an integration among different national states is indeed possible. And, why not, if we, young Europeans, may have our say to influence the decision-making process at the Union level, as the professional lobbyists do here in the Big Apple of Europe.
We were excited before the evening of November 13, when the events in Paris left a "wound" on all of us and the whole democratic world. That night our sleep was restless and for the first time in our lives, at the wake up, we were afraid of war at our door steps! The media channels confirmed that it was a terrible nightmare, the victims were really over 130.
The morning of November 14 was particularly quiet, but during the afternoon, the Bruxelles city center was again crowded, the transports functioning, and plenty of shops were open. Only a lot of police forces manned the metro and pre-metro stops. Apparently, a daily routine, but indeed many faces were silent, grieved, in alert state through the seatmates in the buses, especially those of non-EU citizens with a backpack or a heavy padded jacket.
"These are criminals and not refugees or asylum seekers"! - was the Juncker’s statement at the G20 of Antalya - asking not to compare the suicide bombers with the refugees or the asylum seekers.
And so, between the security measures taken by Mr. Hollande and the official statements of the most important governors in the world, the first weekend after Nov. 13th passed by. On Monday 16th, life resumed almost normally, but under increased controls especially in Etterbeek, the European district. That morning we were in the Parliament - an Italian, two Dutch and a Belgian - while we found out that some areas surrounding the Commission were closed and the first raid in Molenbeek, the neighborhood of the mosques, was underway. We felt safe inside the European Parliament fortress. Our activities were suspended for the afternoon. The following day, the 17th, we were at the European Parliament while the commemoration for the victims of Paris was celebrated in the presence of Mr. Shulz, the President of the EP, Mogherini and other European representatives. Everybody sang the French national hymn and a violin gave another sad farewell to the victims of Paris.
Today, the Belgian Crisis Center recommends extreme caution, to cancel concerts and other public events, and to everyone to not attend too crowded sites. The Metro 1 and 5, for instance, the ones that passes under the European institutions and other metro lines has been stopped. We are right in the middle of a war without any clear rules.
It’s clear that our enemies want to disrupt our peace and our democracy. But we do not give up!!. "#NousSommesUnis" is our motto. We consider this second weekend after November 13th just as two days of rest in our warm flats, while it’s snowing outside. And on Monday we will walk again on the streets around the institutions with a renewed commitment to the path of the European integration process.