Wednesday 23 March 2016 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Wednesday. 23/3/2016

The Monocle Minute

Image: Carl Court/Getty Images

Dangerous divisions?

For more than 500 days at the start of the decade, Belgium did not have a government: split between the Flemish-speaking north and the French-speaking south, its political parties were unable to form a workable coalition. The possibility of the nation splitting into three – Flanders, Walloonia and a Brussels city-state – was not out of the question. While Belgium now has a stable government, the divide hid a darker, more dangerous problem: a small minority of Muslims who had not integrated into broader society and did not feel welcome. Exacerbated by the war in Syria – Belgium has provided more fighters per capita for Isis and al-Nusra than any other European nation – this split has become deadly. Now more than ever Belgium needs a strong, inclusive government.

Image: Sylvain Lefevre/Getty Images

Sense of security

The targeting of Zaventem Airport and Maelbeek Metro Station in Brussels yesterday has revived the conversation about the security of major transport hubs and could mark a new era of travel restrictions. According to Philip Baum, editor of Aviation Security International, a major problem in many airports is long queues prior to a security checkpoint, which creates a new target. “We’ve long been concerned about a front-of-house attack at an airport,” he says. “We need to make sure we have more skilled surveillance people who know what types of behaviour to be on the look out for.” Tel Aviv Ben Gurion International Airport has shown how to effectively conduct preliminary passenger screening. That said, Baum points out that improving surveillance is essential at all major transport hubs and public centres, not just airports.

Image: Kenzo Tribouillard/Getty Images

Press the issue

Making sense of a tragedy on the scale of the Brussels attacks is a near impossible task, even for the media. In the hours following the suicide bombings in the Belgian capital, both local and international news coverage quickly tried to come to grips with both the facts of the tragedy – difficult in any breaking-news situation – and the potential implications. Brussels is already home to scores of foreign correspondents but they are there on the EU beat; coverage of Belgium as a country is rare outside its borders. Some may argue that Belgium hasn’t warranted much coverage in the past but events yesterday – and the political, social and security faultlines they have exposed – suggest otherwise. Monocle 24 will be following that discussion and covering the aftermath of the attacks throughout the week. Tune in to The Globalist at 07.00, The Briefing at 12.00, Midori House at 18.00 and The Monocle Daily at 22.00 (all UK time).

Image: Kenzo Tribouillard/Getty Images

What next?

Yesterday was not the first time that Europe has faced a terrorist attack and in all likelihood it won’t be the last. But as the authorities continue to sift through the unanswered questions about what happened in Brussels, the Belgian capital will also need to focus on putting itself back together. Though it won’t be easy the city should take its cues from its European neighbours. Following the attacks in Paris last year the French capital united to show strength and solidarity: Charlie Hebdo continued to publish and sell issues and the COP21 climate conference went ahead in December. The day after the 7/7 bombings, Londoners got back on the Tube. Returning to normality will be a challenge in the coming weeks amid the shock, anger and grief but it will be essential if Brussels is to reach a place of strength.

Image: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Brussels and beyond

Listen to Monocle 24’s ongoing coverage of the terror attacks in Brussels, including expert analysis and reports from the ground.

Class acts

On the south side of Bogotá many children don’t have access to a good education. Monocle Films meets two people trying to improve things: an architect who designs school buildings that pupils and their communities can be proud of and a rubbish-truck driver who has collected thousands of discarded books to open a library and community centre in his home.


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