Following the regrettable events that took place lately in Paris, Verviers or Copenhagen, high representatives of various religions, Christians, Jews, Islamists but also of the laity, together with important political figures, by the side of four thousand citizens, all united under the common slogan “Together in Peace – Liberté et respect” have demonstrated in Brussels, hand in hand, on the 15th of March 2015, against any act of terrorism. The demonstrators have passed on their route by a number of places of worship in Brussels, as the El-Jadid Mosque, the Orthodox Cathedral on the Stalingradlaan, the Our Lady of the Zavel Church and Brussels’ main Synagogue on the Regentschapstraat.
Despite the difference of their beliefs, they all expressed a strong common will to defend together the essential democratic values of life in society, such as peace and dialogue, respect towards the individual and free debate of ideologies and religions.
The meeting, which brought together all members of the society irrespective of their belief, is a response to the dangerous feeling of fear, anxiety and even of the polarisation that the terrorism started to create and spread around all over Europe.
The message sent out by the march’s organisers was clear: “We say no to terror and violence and yes to peaceful coexistence and freedom.” On the other hand, the participants claimed that a clear difference should be made between the humankind wishing to live in peace and harmony and the few extremists who aim to destabilise democracy in society.
The speeches all converged in the same direction:
“There are no better weapons to destroy identities than the deformation of the religious and philosophical messages.” (Belgian minister of Justice).
“At the moment, the important thing is to emphasize what brings us together. We should not let anxiety carry us away. We all want to live in peace, in liberty and respect, the warrants of a harmonious life together.” (Jan de Volder, coordinator of the meeting)
“My village is in the forefront of all these challenges we live nowadays. Our difficulty is that in our district there is no religious mix and it is difficult to know other currents in philosophy or religion.” (Francoise Schepmans, mayor of Molenbeek)
“Together we should now more than ever transmit to the future generation the basis of the fundamental values of Europe. (…) A task highly difficult weighs on the shoulders of each of us and we will be judges following what we accomplished.” (Albert Guigui, Great Rabi of Brussels).
Jean De Volder, the spokesperson of the Catholic community Saint Edgion, the organiser of this meeting, claimed that this demonstration is the first step towards a cluster approach of all religions: “Today we had even the Buddhists by our side. Each religion must proceed to a self-criticism. There is a need of purification. Blood was shed in the name of religions and it is still happening today. But the ones who say this in one voice today are the religions themselves.”