Wednesday, March 21   Sign in or Register
Evangelical Focus
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google +
  • Instagram
  • Soundcloud

Newsletter, sign up to receive all our News by email.

Is the sexual exploitation of women an issue in your city?



Citizens in Belgium

Brussels lockdown, cats and raids

Three days of metro lockdown and public forces operations in the capital of Europe. An assessment on the situation of a city invaded by soldiers and journalists (and social media users).

AUTHOR Joëlle Philippe, Evangelical Focus BRUSSELS 23 NOVEMBER 2015 14:53 h GMT+1
cats, brussels, lockdown, belgium A post from a facebook user last night after the Belgian police asked for discretion on the police operations. Social media users answered with pictures of cats. / Facebook

On Saturday morning the early birds woke up to a frozen Brussels, a first weekend of real winter, but also to a surprise: the metro was shut.

The few unfortunate enough to have to work either took the bus or walked to their workplaces while checking the news to find out what was going on. Yes, definitely, the Government had raised the alert level to 4 (the highest) and soldiers and policemen were invading the city centre.

The lockdown was prolonged to Sunday at 3 pm and then to Monday, where schools, universities, kinder-gartens and the underground public transport were kept closed with a huge deployment of public forces protecting key places such as train stations, public institutions, the airport and… supermarkets.

The reason? The police is looking for the suspected ringleader from the Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, who is supposed to be hiding in Brussels.

The security threat will be reassessed regularly by Belgian authorities to decide if they maintatin the alert level for Tuesday.



Abroad, the message felt almost apocalyptic as the media shared the selected images of an empty city with soldiers everywhere. The media have spent the last 48 hours updating without much to say, reposting what users were tweetting and  invading the empty streets to try to follow up the police operations. Belgium has mobilized a thousand soldiers for support.

The hashtag #BrusselsLockdown brings to memory another psychosis: the manhunt of the Boston Marathon bomber in 2013 where the whole city was paralyzed and all citizens were asked to remain at home.

The measures, however, are not so strict in Brussels. Citizens are allowed to go out but the atmosphere is not really inviting, as the constant updates from the media worsen the feeling of insecurity. Users are tweetting pictures of completely deserted city centre streets.


The Belgian police thanked the media and social media users by tweetting this picture.

The Belgian Home Secretary, Jan Jambon tried to let cooler heads prevail: “Apart from the metro and schools, life has to continue in Brussels.”

Nonetheless, the vast majority have decided to work from home. Who else is going to take care of the children? And with the Christmas season approaching, people talk of avoiding markets.

To all this, some questions are being raised up. Is it not an overreaction? Furthermore, do citizens need to know every single police movement? Le Soir, the French-speaking newspaper even posted the names and numbers of the battalions deployed. Does it help or does it make the operations more difficult? Should the media stay silent?



Nineteen raids in different communes (neighbourhoods) of Brussels have taken place, as well as three raids in the town of Charleroi, south of Brussels. Twenty one people have been arrested.

Mr. Jambon said it is not finished yet. Abdeslam has not been found.

In Antwerp, there were three bomb alerts in schools on Friday, the city centre was closed on Saturday and on Monday morning another anonymous call warned of a bomb hidden in a school building.

There is an average of 400 telephone calls per hour to the crisis centre. A special number was created.



On Sunday evening, the Belgian police asked the media and social media users to remain silent about the police operations. The net answered back with... pictures of cats. In a few minutes, the hashtag of #BrusselsLockdown was the second most used globally. Sniper-cats, Magritte-cats, reader-cats invaded the internet. Even conventional media posted pictures of cats to illustrate “police operations in progress”.


Le Chat, of Philippe Gelluck, was a daily comic strip that was published in the French-speaking Belgian newspaper Le Soir until 2013. It has become a symbol of Belgian humour.

Cats are a symbol of humour in Belgium, as one of their famous daily comic strips is “Le Chat” by Philippe Geluck that used to be published in the newspaper Le Soir from 1983 until 2013.

Brussels police answered back with humour and thanked the twitter users by posting a picture of a bowl with biscuits to feed the cats. 


Paris attacks
How should Europe respond to the Paris terrorist attacks?
Destroying Daesh in Syria, as French President Hollande proposes.
Raising security measures, but avoiding military intervention.
Promoting dialogue and education, asking Muslim leaders to promote peace.
Giving more powers to the EU to coordinate an European answer.
Closing all borders to refugees coming from Iraq or Syria.
Another answer.
This Poll is closed.
Number of votes: 38


    If you want to comment, or


YOUR ARE AT: - - Brussels lockdown, cats and raids
Michael Schluter: Relationships are the key to build Europe Michael Schluter: Relationships are the key to build Europe

The economist summarises the manifesto “Confederal Europe: Strong Nations, Strong Union” and explains why personal relationships should be at the centre of our economy, education and democracy. 

Gary Wilkerson: The Bible, the Holy Spirit and the Reformation Gary Wilkerson: The Bible, the Holy Spirit and the Reformation

Pastor Gary Wilkerson talks about what all evangelical Christians can learn from the Protestant Reformation and underlines the need for more churches with both a sound doctrine and obedience to the Holy Spirit.

Lindsay Brown: Islam and the Gospel in Europe Lindsay Brown: Islam and the Gospel in Europe

Is the arrival of thousands of Muslims to Europe a threat to Christianity? What is the growth of evangelical churches in Eastern and Southern Europe? An interview with theologian and Lausanne Movement representative Lindsay Brown.

Efraim Tendero: Relationship with Roman Catholicism and other current issues Efraim Tendero: Relationship with Roman Catholicism and other current issues

The World Evangelical Alliance Secretary General participated in the Italian Evangelical Alliance assembly (Rome, 8-9 April). In this interview with Evangelical Focus, Bp Tendero talks about the need to listen to local churches and to face challenges like the refugee crisis and climate change. 

Greg Pritchard: European Leadership Forum Greg Pritchard: European Leadership Forum

Pritchard explains the vision of ELF, comments on the 2015 event in Poland and reflects on what it means to have an "evangelical identity".

Evi Rodemann: Youth and mission Evi Rodemann: Youth and mission

“We want to see the youth not just being equipped, but also being multipliers”, Evi Rodemann director of Mission-Net. The European Congress took place in Germany from December 28 to January 2.

Coexistence in the church - a model for society Coexistence in the church - a model for society

“Gospel, identity and coexistence” were the themes of the General Assembly of the Spanish Evangelical Alliance. Two days in Palma de Mallorca to reflect about the role of evangelical churches in society.

'Ungi kulimi changana' 'Ungi kulimi changana'

Educator and journalist Jordi Torrents shares images of the Sekeleka social centre in Mozambique. About 50 children live there, many with some kind of disability. All photos were taken with permission.

The President in an evangelical church on Christmas Eve The President in an evangelical church on Christmas Eve

For the first time, the President of Portugal attended a worship service in an evangelical church. It was in Sintra, on Christmas Eve.

Lausanne younger leaders gathering in Budapest Lausanne younger leaders gathering in Budapest

About 70 people from European countries met at the Younger Leaders Gen gathering in Hungary (19-22 October) to discuss the challenges of the church in the continent and build partnerships. Photos: Evi Rodemann and Jari Sippola.

I am not on sale I am not on sale

Young Christians gathered at Madrid’s central square Sol to denounce human trafficking. A flashmob highlighted the work of three evangelical NGOs which support women who escape sexual slavery in Spain.

Stamps to commemorate the Reformation Stamps to commemorate the Reformation

Poland, Lithuania, Namibia and Brazil are some of the countries that have issued special stamps on the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 theses.

A marriage story A marriage story

The  great love story for everyone.

Be safe on social media Be safe on social media

A video about the way traffickers target teenage girls online, produced by anti-slavery gorup Abolishion.

In Mission In Mission

A 360º lyric video about how all followers of Jesus Christ are called to serve God. Duo in Spanish (Alex Sampedro) and Portuguese (Marcos Martins).

Heart Heart

A short animation film by Swiss cartoonist Alain Auderset tells the message of the Bible in four minutes.

Creation Care and the Gospel, in France Creation Care and the Gospel, in France

The conference drew about 90 delegates from across Europe. Scientists, theologians, activists reflected together on the theme “God’s Word and God’s World”.

Philip Yancey interview Philip Yancey interview

An 8-minute interview with Philip Yancey on the role of Christians in a secularised society. Recorded in Madrid, September 2016.

An interview with Prof. John Lennox An interview with Prof. John Lennox

New atheism, the definition of "faith", Christianity in Europe, the role of the Bible in mission, and the need to listen more. An exclusive interview recorded at "Forum Apologética" (Tarragona, Spain) in May 2016.

Follow us on Soundcloud
Follow us on YouTube

EVANGELICAL FOCUS belongs to Areópago Protestante, linked to the Spanish Evangelical Alliance (AEE). AEE is member of the European
Evangelical Alliance and World Evangelical Alliance.

Opinions expressed are those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of Evangelical Focus.