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Brussels Demonstrators March In Solidarity


The city of Brussels continues to reel from this week's terror attacks. Those bombings killed more than 30 people and injured more than 300. Belgians and non-Belgians alike have been responding with demonstrations, sometimes organized and often not. Emmanuel Foulon is organizing a demonstration in Brussels tomorrow. It is called the March Against Fear. He joins us on the line. Thank you so much for being with us.

EMMANUEL FOULON: You're welcome.

SIMON: And how many people do you expect?

FOULON: Good question. I think it's not really important. I know that a few thousand people will join. We can be 50, 500, 5,000. The most important is the symbol, the symbol to show that Belgium is still alive. That's why we'll make noise. I think any Belgian citizen were attacked this week - in his freedom, in his rights. And that's something that we have to fight for.

And the first reflex was, of course, to stay with your own family, to look at the news day after day, hours after hours. But now, I think, is the second step, the step of solidarity. We have to be open now to all the people and to exchange with them to continue a normal life. And I think that's most important because if we don't continue a normal life, the terrorists are winning the game.

SIMON: Authorities in Brussels are concerned about large gatherings. You must wonder about that. Are you making the people in the march some kind of target, particularly when there are said to be perhaps some potential terrorists still lurking in the city?

FOULON: We are working a lot with the military, with the police and with the city of Brussels to make this place sure for the demonstration. But as you can see this week and as you can see also in Paris in November, it's impossible to be 100 percent sure in this society for the moment.

SIMON: Monsieur Foulon, I'm told you're a press officer with the European Parliament. And so, of course, the metro attack occurred just outside of your office. Do you read that as a strike by ISIS against a united Europe?

FOULON: I don't think that the European institutions were really the target. I think the target is the democracy. That's why that it's not only European institutions who are the victim. I think we are all the victim - the European one, but the citizen one, the world citizen, one.

SIMON: Is it still impossible to begin the day without thinking about what happened in Brussels? Does the attack kind of dictate everyday life in terms of where people go, how they act, how they feel?

FOULON: When you have this kind of terrorist attack, of course, your life is a bit different. Of course, you wake up with this story in mind, but I think, also, that we have to learn how to live now, daily, with this threat - exactly what doing the people who are living in Paris, as in other countries who were attacked by the terrorists. We have now to live with this reality. But we have continued to stay alive. We have continued to have a normal life and to keep it in mind. I know it's not super positive, but I think that we have to learn about it, and there is no other solution. We have to continue to fight for our freedom and our value.

SIMON: Emmanuel Foulon is an organizer of tomorrow's March Against Fear in Brussels. Thanks so much for joining us.

FOULON: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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