When I entered one of my favourite Brussels shops yesterday, staff were listening to the radio. While I was browsing, there was a special news broadcast.
There had been an attack somewhere in Paris with at least 10 death, but there were no other details yet. More news would follow in a quarter of an hour. I was shocked, but had no idea what had happened in Paris. I presumed it was a bomb.
From this favourite shop, I sauntered to the antique and second-hand shops in the Sablon area. It is one of my favourite Brussels areas. I passed the policemen who were on duty, guarding the Jewish Museum. The museum used not to have any police surveillance, but this changed after the recent attack.
From there, I walked to one of my cherished fritkots. After a petit paquet there, I sauntered uphill again. It had been a while since I visited the Sablon church. So I had a look inside, before walking round it. In one of the streets between this church and the lovely little park opposite it, another attack took place. It happened a while ago and I have no idea if the place still has police protection.
It was later that evening, far later, that I came home and put on the telly to watch the news. The full horror of what had happened in Paris was broadcasted and discussed on CNN, the BBC, all European television stations.
Horrified, I watched how someone, already lying wounded or dead in a Paris street, was shot again. Despite footage of similar acts in the UK, Canada, and other places in the world, having been broadcast, one does not become accustomed to the horror of such acts.
The scene in the Paris street must have been shown over and over again on all channels. Imagine being the dead person’s partner, relatives, friends, children and having to see it over and over again. Just like those who lost dear ones in the Twin Towers and other attacks have had to watch what took place over and over again, not only on the day or days afterwards, but down the years.
I watched a muslim mayor being interviewed on a tv channel. He referred to all the people trying to escape from Syria and others heading towards the free West. He said that people who could not cope with Western freedom and tolerance, were free to up sticks and find a place somewhere else in this world, where they and their views might be more appreciated. It was pretty clear, he was livid.
This evening, he will speech at a protest in his town. A protest organised as an act of support for the Paris victims and their family and friends, for freedom, for a tolerant society. Throughout Europe, there will be similar acts of support where journalists, writers, cartoonists, bloggers, police, mayors, politicians, ordinary people like you and me will demonstrate in support of the Paris victims, tolerance, freedom.
Perhaps you are not like me, and regularly join protest marches. Perhaps you are like me and prefer not to get involved whenever people demonstrate for or against something. This time, for the first time in my life, I will join a demonstration. For I do not understand how anybody can cry out God is Great, while killing and murdering and slaughtering parts of His Creation. For it is not je suis Charlie, but nous sommes Charlie.
I support a tolerant society, democracy, freedom of religion, press freedom, a great many more freedoms, ideas, points of view, and have a certain set of values. You may have different opinions, believes, views than mine, a totally different set of values and therefore totally disagree with me. That is your right.
Regardless of what you and me believe and cherish – our opinions, thoughts, ideas, values do not automatically give us the right to kill, murder, slaughter, and claim we do this in the name of God or whatever we believe in. That is us using God or whatever we believe in, as an excuse for evil deeds.