Seeds: In the wake of the recent terrorist attacks, a fresh wave of Islamophobia and anti-immigrant mentalities spread throughout Brussels. This reaction is similar to how the people in France reacted to the attacks in Pairs, in that France’s Far-Right National Party gained significant political support, and they stand for the preservation of the “French way of life” by harshly discouraging immigration into France.
Core: This morning a memorial was held in a town square in Brussels for those lost in the attacks on Tuesday, but the peaceful vigil was broken up by 400 rowdy protesters. The group made Nazi salutes, confronted mourning Muslim women, and chanted, holding nationalist and anti-immigrant banners. Most of the protesters were dressed in black and had their faces partially or fully covered. They marched through the memorial, stomping on the flowers and candles left for lost loved ones.
Skin: The police fired water cannons at the protesters, effectively ridding the memorial of them. The air was tense in the square after the scuffle, and it is a clear representation of the tense relations throughout Europe. Anti-immigrant sentiments, especially against Muslim immigrants, are growing beyond Europe, as seen in the statements of prominent political figures in the United States.
Leaves: While riot policemen shut down this particular demonstration, it is likely there will be more to come. As the number of terror attacks increase, so do the number of people wary of Muslim immigrants. These xenophobic reactions, which to many seem offensively extreme, stem from fear, and peoples’ unsurity of what to do. As a whole, it is much easier to blame an entire group or religion when we are afraid, than to differentiate between those who mean harm and those who do not, especially when they say they practice the same belief system.
Food For Thought: Do you think that nationalistic and anti-immigrant sentiments in Europe are growing? Do you think these riots and protests are symptoms of a larger problem? What do you think world leaders should do about immigration in Europe?