The Belgian Capital is not the only city where different ethnic components live segregated, yet the feeling one gets in the streets and at the bus stops there, differs significantly from what one might perceive in other cities around the word, such as Paris or New York, for instance. Severe terrorist attacks shocked and irreversibly marked both France and the United States, a clear sign of questionable policies. Yet, you feel safe there, unless you ‘‘look for trouble’’.
Why? Well, in Paris you are in the bed of grandeur francese the cradle of the American dream. You know where you are. Whereas Brussels seems a non-place, a utopia, a place where we decided to embed the European Union, built as a neutral “gimmick”, as an abstract entity devoid of values, culture, and history. It feels like we have given up on ourselves and had to pay a high price for it: now that sense of unsafety, which we thought could be censored, accompanies us wherever we go.
The European Brussels is all there: between the Berlaymont and L’Espace Léopold, respectively the headquarters of the Commission and the European Parliament, in the so-called European quarter, a crossroads of rich, hard-working, and cosmopolitan people. The palaces of the institutions are immense, shiny, armored, they comfort and fascinate whoever is attracted to the idea of being a citizen of a shared world and is open to dialogue. The feeling you get in their presence it that you are small, tiny…
Which is the escape route? Not running away, staying in this Europe, which looks like that: multicultural, primarily economic, and not particularly democratic. We also have to put forward our identity not as an act of arrogance, but as an act of existence, out of honesty.
Let us consider the Italian context, in which non-profit or ecclesiastic organizations effectively compensate the State’s failures, sheltering migrants or the poor, for example. Let us commit to this environment, the result of our cultural specificity, dusting off the value and beauty of the West and its personality.
Muslim communities are not as compact as they seem to be from the outside: conflicts spread between those who want to integrate into the host culture and is attracted by it, and those who want to live on its edge and destroy it. If only we could make this healthy fracture prevail, making the peaceful interaction with “us” desirable, it would be possible to build a truly inclusive space, not a hypocritical one. Meanwhile, let us learn to listen to that inner sense of unsafety that accompanies us: it is often prophetic.