After a minute’s silence at both Brussels Airport and the Maelbeek metro station, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo paid tribute, at a memorial on Rue de la Loi, to the victims of the terror attacks that struck Brussels on 22 March 2016.
"Five years ago, the unthinkable happened, five years ago, evil struck. Three devastating explosions. Two in our national airport. One in a metro train at Maelbeek station,” De Croo said.
“In one hour and 13 minutes, 32 innocent people were snatched from their lives,” he continued. “More than 340 were seriously injured. And a multitude of lives were shattered forever.”
"We are gathered here today to remember the victims of the terrorist attacks, to show our solidarity with the survivors, their families and friends, to express our gratitude to all those who came to their aid," the Prime Minister added.
"But also to overcome this emptiness and absence together. As we have tried to do, as best we could, over the past five years. By naming their names and being united together in silence," he continued.
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"If we are here, it is also to affirm that nothing is more valuable than a human life. That there is no greater crime, no greater cruelty, than to shatter a person's future, to damage, to destroy a human life," De Croo said.
The commune of Molenbeek-Saint-Jean has also commemorated the attacks, opting to do so at a monument to Loubna Lafquiri, one of the victims in the attacks. Flowers were laid at the monument to Lafquiri, and children from local schools sang songs and recited poems in the nearby Marie-José park.
"I salute the young people of Molenbeek who often continue, in spite of themselves, to bear the scars of the events that took place 5 years ago and which our municipality had to suffer like no other,” said Molenbeek mayor Catherine Moureaux.
“Our young people in Molenbeek have been hit hard, but the vast majority of them want to remain clear-headed and enterprising despite the great difficulties they are facing,” she said.
The Brussels Times