“C’était le temps où Bruxelles chantait.”

“It was the time when Brussels used to sing.” Jacques Brel’s song came to my mind this morning as I heard the news about the Brussels killings. Dozens dead, countless injured, maimed for life. The rabid dogs have struck again.

2013 Paris 202

Grand-Place, Bruxelles.

Brussels is a lovely city. Small. Full of history, lovely food and charming people. In the 80’s I had many multinational clients in Brussels. ‘Used to take the early morning train at Gare du Nord in Paris, arrive at the Gare du Midi, hold my meetings. Grab a nice lunch with my Belgian friends, take the late train back to Paris. Many a peaceful trip to and from a lovely city.

2013 Paris 211

Belgian national colours: black, yellow and red.

I’ve since gone back, for pleasure, many a time. I recommend the Grand-Place, a jewel of medieval architecture. Have a Kriek on the Place de Brouckere. Kriek means cherry in flemish, it is a cherry flavoured beer. Cool and perfect for a lazy sunny afternoon in Brussels. Or have a waterzoi (literally, boiling water) a typical chicken or fish dish.

2013 Paris 253

A Kriek beer, on the Place de Brouckere.

These last few days I’d been thinking of posting something about the killings and bombings in Grand-Bassam, a beach near Abidjan, Ivory coast, in Turkey, in Tunisia… About the arrest of the only surviving murderer of the November Paris killings. But the rabid dogs hit first. Gibb’s rule # 49: “There ain’t no such thing as a coincidence.” The fact that Mr. S.A. Esq. has just been arrested in Molenbeeck, a Brussels suburb, cannot be a coincidence. It is revenge. It reminded me of many a Paris bombing in the 80’s, perpetrated as blackmail to free such and such apprehended killer. There we are again. and it is worldwide. I have friends in Senegal who are likely bracing themselves for a possible attack.


Terrorism has hit again. “Can you make me some space?”

This cartoon is by Ali Dilem, an Algerian cartoonist. He publishes his cartoons in Algeria and in France. He has been subjected to legal harassment from the Algerian authorities on many occasions.

I‘ve written this before: we are at war. Who is “we”? The west? The north? Tunisia? Africa? San Bernardino? All those and many others, who believe in democracy, regardless of its flaws.

Having said that, what next? It has now been documented that a dozen delusional “radicals” can kill a hundred or more men, women or children. There are roughly 10,000 people in France documented with an “S” file. “S” meaning Security risk. Doesn’t mean they’re guilty, but they are documented as a “risk”. Many of the past assassins were labelled “S”. Went through the net. There aren’t enough police personnel to follow 10,000 risks. Now let’s do the math, if only 10% of those 10,000 blow themselves up in a crowd, and kill 100 each time, how many deaths? 100,000? Anywhere in France. Or in Belgium. Or anywhere.

And what do we do? Close to nothing. A handful of suspects held in custody. Soon to be released I imagine. The Paris killer’s lawyer is already challenging extradition form Belgium to France. All politicians will say: “let us not draw hasty conclusions”. Not all “immigrants” are like that.”Islam is a religion of peace”. I will probably lose a few friends as I say “I am tired of hearing that”. After the San Bernardino killings, the US Moslem reaction was: “we fear for our safety”. I don’t know that there have been any reprisals. Either in the US or in Europe.

On March 19th, our inept President, “Normal the first” chose to commemorate the end of the Algerian war of independence in 1962. That date marked the beginning of massacres of the Europeans in Algeria, and of the Harkis, the Algerian soldiers who fought alongside the French against the FLN. After a few months, close to a million “pieds-noirs”, some born and raised in Algeria for generations, took the last boat to France, so did the Harkis. About 90,000 Harkis found refuge in France. Between 30 and 150,000 were executed in Algeria. And the President chooses that date to “commemorate”? No-one “commemorates” the million people who fled the land of their birth to a French exile. Let us stop whipping ourselves.

What other measures have been taken? Oh. De-radicalisation workshops. A bit like AA meetings: “Hello, my name is … and I am a would-be Jihadist. I would like to go to Syria and fight for the Jihad.” Come on!

Parliament has been debating for months after the November Paris killings whether to pass a law on French Nationality destitution for terrorists. LOL. The media keep writing (for fear of racism accusations) about “So-and-so, a french or belgian 26 year-old national was arrested yesterday”. Please, strike that, they have forsaken their nationality rights. And they don’t give a crap. (Pardon my French).

According to a journalist, there are “715 zones of No-Law in France”. I don’t know if it’s a fact, I just know that there are many areas where the Police does not dare come in. I also heard (hearsay) that during the arrest of the Paris killer in Mollenbeek, in Brussels, there were hostile reactions from the residents.

Of course, many will claim: “Poor things, there is high unpemployment in those areas, it is not their fault. They feel excluded…” BS. Several ministers and ex-ministers in France, from the left or right come from immigrant families. And made it up to the top. Why? Maybe because their immigrés parents pushed and pushed them at school, and they aimed for a better life. And made it.

Let us call a cat, a cat. Europe is facing a major issue with immigrants. Not all of them, of course, but, as I mentioned, 10,000 “Security risks” in France is a major threat. And if I may say so, the Moslem public reaction so far has been lukewarm. “We fear for our safety.” I have yet to see European moslems march by the thousands in European streets to solemnly condemn the killings.

The only significant reaction I have seen so far, but then I don’t pretend to know everything at 10,000 miles distance, was this video by a Frenchman of Arabic descent, right after the November killings:

Basically this young man, Bassem Braiki, from Vénissieux, a suburb of Lyon, says: “It is up to us, Moslems of France, to clean up our house”. And he makes a very strong point.

I do not know what the solution is. Do-gooders in France are already protesting the “State of emergency” law enacted last year. “It is an attack against human rights”, they say. A proposal to install  safety scanners in some schools in France has been turned down. A “violation of rights”… Personally, If I have to be undergo a search every time I take the metro and not be blown away, I’ll take the search.

Lest we slowly go from “State of emergency” to Martial law, here are two wishes. First of all, I urge European muslims to stand up, solemnly condemn acts of terror, and “clean up” their house. (I know, this statement will get me a lot of “friends”…) Second, the Law must be enforced everywhere on European territory. No neighbourhood can remain outside the Law. (That should also get me new “friends”).

As an aside, Maelbeck metro station, one of today’s killing sites is situated on Wetstraat/La rue de la Loi. The street of the Law.

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Broussaille and his girlfriend Catherine, a popular belgian comic strip.

Let no-one misguide you: this is not a war between Europeans and Arabs, neither between Europe and the Arab world (Tunisia, the origin of the Arab spring a few years ago is being hit hard by extremists), nor is it a war between Islam and Christianity. It is a war between Humanity and madness. It is time to take sides.

And to finish this post, allow me to dedicate the following song to the people and the city of Brussels: “It was the the time when Brussels used to sing”.

As usual my words and my words only. Comments and opinions welcome. My sorrow and pain go to the people of Belgium.


Olivier Rameau et Colombe Tiredaile. Another classic strip.

If anyone wonders: “Why the photos?”, I gave it great thought, between rage and sorrow, then decided to include them to show what a lovely, peaceful city Brussels was and will aways be. Vive la Belgique!

39 thoughts on ““C’était le temps où Bruxelles chantait.”

  1. Hear hear! The muslim community must come forward and decry the barbaric killing of innocents in their name. They remain very silent to date. My heart goes out to the people of Brussels and to the world. Radical Islam is a scourge on humanity. Thank you for the heartfelt and thoughtful post.

      • Everywhere, at every time, there will be a light that shines, I do have faith…..what else can there be? Peace, love and lots and lots of light, K

      • Thank you Kim. It helps. I just feel… helpless. Like in November, it’s my people they’re killing. And I’m too far away… But I’ll remember the light. Merci.

      • The places I’ve never been, and now too afraid to see, yet I see these things and feel hopeless but in a way happy that those I know if only through this world are safe on soil far away…perhaps selfish of me, but that’s how I think. I cry for this world, and it isn’t just here, it’s everywhere. A war no one asks for, and ah the story of history repetition, religion, politics, etc….I pray for a world where every race, creed, religion unite in peace, for it is the only way…this I believe….peace and blessings my dear friend, I’m sorry for your countrymen and land, in my thoughts and prayers, as the world is every night
        Always with love,

      • Thank you for your thoughts Kim. Don’t be afraid to go and visit. I will go in August. 🙂
        And Love back at you. (And my regards to hubby) Joyeuses Pâques in your new home.

  2. It’s sad that we have to fear losing friends or being called a “bad person”, because we don’t agree with what the media or politicians tell us we must believe. Free speech only applies to those who make the rules. I’m totally with you, Brian. I’m fed up with the platitudes and the naivete. As you so wisely stated: we are at war with madness, with evil. We must choose sides and stop waiting for the government to take care of us. I saw this coming a while ago and have already consciously chosen sides. This is only the beginning. The many, many good muslims have to take a look around them and stop being passive. The most important thing, for all of us, is simply being observant. Thank you for the photos of Brussels. I had the pleasure of visiting just a few years ago. It deserves to be remembered for its unique beauty. Peace, mon ami.

    • Merci Julie. “Platitudes and naïveté”? That sums it up. The only tiny light of hope I have been seeing since November, is that people are increasingly fed up, and no longer keep quiet. That may be a new beginning, if keep the voices up. Nonetheless, Happy Easter et Joyeuses Pâques to you and hubby. Peace indeed. Brian

  3. There’s a woodchopper in the woods. And he keeps chopping and chopping, cutting trees down for some reason known only to him. When the axe blade goes dull he just takes another axe and goes on and on, day and night. There are thousand of axes in store and others are being manufactured everyday. And trees keep going down…

    Find the woodchopper and “give him the axe” or soon there will be no more forest on the face of the Earth!

    • And the woodchopper has been there since the beginning of times, right? Multumesc my friend. Sometimes understanding does not solve anything but I like the image. Well, “Like” may be too much but I think it describes well. Happy Easter (though yours is later, right?)

      • Well, the woodchopper character I imagined isn’t exactly the one you mentioned but a more earthly one. Yours works on a quite different level and… well… in mysterious ways. 😉

        Thanks for the wishes. Actually I’m not a fan of religion, generally. Won’t elaborate here, it’s too complicated. However I wanted to offer you a few details that Monica omitted in an earlier discussion with you. In our country there’s been a diversity of cultures and religion for a long times. The most prominent are Orthodox and Catholic but there are also small communities that hold on to their traditions and religions. Catholics can be found mostly in the western side of the country while the Orthodox are scattered around all territory. Personally I don’t care about anyone’s religion and beliefs as long as they don’t try to draw me on their side. 😉

        Enjoy the weekend and Happy Easter (if applies)! 🙂

      • Thanks for the detail. That I read as Romania being exactly at the edge of the Roman empire and the Byzantine empire. Quite interesting. Plus the fact that you say “Da” as in Russian. (Another “former” empire) 😉

      • We also say ‘duşman’ (enemy) identically as in Hindi and with the same meaning, as well as ‘mersi’ which is pig French for ‘merçi’ (which you already knew). But we say ‘nu’ (no/non) instead of ‘niet’ (нет). 🙂

        Our language has had many influences in time from our neighbors and invaders, which is probably the best way to learn, improve and most of all survive. Parts of their cultures have also been assimilated by the native population, while tight communities of foreign origin living on our territory have kept their traditions and culture mostly intact with little influence from the natives.

      • There was a time when a “indo-european” language theory was invented. Not sure if it is still valid. I find fascinating that you should use the same word for ennemy as in Hindi. Or maybe that is a Gipsy influence? (I think they came from India around the 15th century or so) Dusman. (With the tailed S). I will write it down in my Romanian dictionary. 😉 Take care my friend.

      • I haven’t studies linguistics so can’t say whether that indo-european language theory is valid or not. Mine are mere observations from daily life. 🙂

        The Gipsy definitely have an indian origin. Many words in their language are similar or identical to Hindi words. And most likely some of them made their way officially into Romanian language no differently than words from other languages like Serbian, Hungarian, Ukrainean, Russian, Bulgarian – being our neighbors – and also French, Italian/Latin and others.

        Oh and some tips about the diacritics:
        – Ş/ş is pronounced ‘sh’
        – Ţ/ţ is pronounced ‘tz’
        – Ă/ă is pronounced’uh’
        – Î/î and Â/â are both pronounced ‘ugh’

        They aren’t mere accents but they alter the spelling and the meaning of the word. For example:
        fată –> girl / fille
        faţă –> face / visage

        Since this IT era started many of our people were unable to use the diacritics on the computer so they started using a crippled language. In time we got used to this language but it’s not right and since modern devices are perfectly capable of using the correct characters I see only laziness and lack of interest as the reasons for not using a proper grammar online and offline.

        Oh well, enough with these grammar lessons. Have a fine day and a great week ahead! 🙂

      • You’d have to live here for a few years to learn the language properly. But I’m glad to be of help every now and then. 🙂

        About that beer… we’ll see. Wouldn’t you rather try something more… manly, such as a 75° plum brandy called ‘palincă’? 🙄 It’s homemade in the western county ‘Ardeal’, makes tequila seem like plain water. XD

      • “Palincuh”? 75 degrees? Do you use that in your cars in the winter to start the engine? Cough, cough! Yes tequila could be used as a “chaser”. OMG

      • Hahaha, we are tough people out here. XD It would be a pity to waste that marvel on car engines – we power our own internal engines with it. 😉

  4. Cannot disagree. Muslim community have to do something – it is their monsters. People of Belgium are the sweetest, nicest people ever. My heart goes out to all of them. They don’t deserve to be butchered like that.
    Sometimes I think that our governments have been paid with the oil money to keep their eyes shut. Look at that Boston bomber – he has the best lawyer in the country, and the media picture him as a sweetheart. Sick world.

    • Thank you for your comment. Another blogger mentioned Italy’s red brigades in the 70’s. And the support they had form some sectors. I think there is unspoken support. And that has to change. Happy Easter nothetheless.

  5. You ask the Muslims in Europe to take sides. Personally, I think it’s already happening. You’ve linked the video of that young guy in France, but he wasn’t the only one; everywhere in France there were condemnations from Muslims, clergymen and not. I live in London, where a twat has been arrested after he stabbed people in Leytonstone. A passerby took a video of him and on tape you could hear another man, another Muslim, going “You ain’t no Muslim bruv”. Questionable grammar, but pretty good message I daresay.

    Will it happen overnight? No. Are there many, far too many, who support these terrorist wankers? Yes. But eventually, it’ll end. Like in Italy during the 1970s and 1980s, when the Unions stopped called the Red Brigades “Comrades making mistakes” and started calling them terrorists, then the sea in which they swam eventually dried up.

    But you’re right, more needs to be done. Muslims need to clean their house, whilst Europe ought to start arresting, or deporting, those who brainwash the inner city youths (how long did it take to arrest Abu Hamza in London, and how much evil did he cause?), and perhaps we ought to be a little bit less idiotic in the future. If Belgian law didn’t prohibit house raids outside office hours, or if Brussels didn’t have six different police zones, perhaps this would’ve been avoided.

    Ok, rant over!

    • No rant. Thank you on the contrary for your contribution. And perspective widening. One: the Brigatte rosse are a perfectly good example. They thrived f or a long while on “unspoken support”. Two: the young man in Vénissieux is only one voice, but statistically (I’ve been in research for a long time) only one voice represents thousands or more. He has had 200,000 views. Not bad. only 1,300 likes but very few dislikes: 100. So what you say about other UK examples shines a light of hope. Thank you again and a Happy Easter to you, regardless. (just watch your back in Istanbul, and London, and…) 🙂

  6. The very process of peace seems to create a vacuum for the next round of violence. Remember the IRA, the Cold War, Bader Meinhof, the eight years when Iraq and Iran were at war with each other. And now Sunnis, Shiites and others are fighting for Muslim supremacy (with the poor Kurds at the bottom) with ISIS the cherry on a volatile cake. Put that all together and it’s westward ho to bomb and blast the crap out of christendom, where it seems everyone is struggling to get to for the want of a better life. I am confused, and angry.

    • Me too. And rightfully so, I guess. You may – sadly – be right about the vacuum… I recently started wondering whether war might in fact be mankind’s ultimate goal. As if peace (71 years since WWII) were just an accident, a pause in humans’ constant love for blood. It would make for a “good” book, but I don’t feel like writing it.

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