Our resident Belgian Philippe Persoons takes a look at life through A Belgian Eye.
This week he asks have we done well?
Have we done well? Now everyone in the world knows Belgium … as a failed state, the breeding ground for terrorism, the hotbed for Jihadist and the weak link in the fight against international attacks.
Our Molenbeek has become a global byword for terror.
Some call us politically splintered and vulnerable to terrorism.
We had the highest terror alert level for about a week, with no metro, no concerts, no shopping and more. There were more than 22 anti-terror raids and 16 arrests, but still no sign of the key suspects.
By this we were the butt of last weeks’ European jokes, and it wouldn’t surprise if most of them were invented by us, the Belgians, the kings of surrealism and sarcasm.
We refer to our traffic jams, the Dutroux affair, our longest formation of government. We talk about uncoordinated security services and neglected areas in Brussels. We do believe that nothing works and that all is bad and the rest of the world? They simply believe our story, and they laugh with our jokes.
Except … Except for one notorious politician, -former politician-, perhaps the best politician we ever had. It wasn’t a Belgian; it was the former US ambassador in Belgium Howard Gutman.
I do advise you to listen to the interview he gave on VRT, Belgian television, last Sunday.
The only failure Belgium has had is in letting others -first France and then the international media- control the message. “The facts are pretty clear, our country is, according to the Global Peace Index, the fourteenth safest country in the world, UK is the thirty ninth and the US the ninety forth. It are the Belgians that like to make fun of themselves, their different regionalism, different parliaments. If Belgium is a failed state, the US is Afghanistan”. … according to Gutman
He attributed our political problems to standard “federal-regional conflict”, “the simple political fight is called democracy”, adding “if you want efficiency, go to China”. He also points on the fact
that there have not been terrorist attacks in Belgium. The international media need to sell papers and that’s why they ‘used’ Belgium.
And Gutman concludes that all this will harm the country, for our economy relies on service and tourism. “Americans have cancelled their tours and that will happen again next Christmas unless someone responds.
Howard Gutman calls us to stand up. Business communities, public relations firms, all those who work in, and benefit from Belgium must go out and tell the story that we are the safest, trustworthy country.
I admit …
I also need to fill my paper,
I also need to fill this column
It’s always easy to make fun of Belgium
And I’m a Belgian and I like surrealism and perhaps I might be a little sarcastic as well.
I’ll try to do better
Belgians … you can trust them, but don’t always believe them!
And have a nice day