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Belgians Answer Terrorist Threat With the Power of Cats

Asked not to publish data that could hinder investigations, people post cat photos on Twitter.

Keith Bowers  |  Nov 23rd 2015


Brussels is a city under siege. The capital of Belgium and the headquarters of the European Union is on lockdown from threats of terrorist attacks connected to the ones in Paris on Nov. 13. A suspected would-be leader of these attacks, whose brother blew himself up in Paris last month in that display of cowardice and carnage, remains at large. Authorities have asked the general public to stay off the streets and refrain from putting any information online about police raids that might compromise the hunt for the suspects.

So people responded in the best way I can imagine: by posting pictures of cats. The New York Times was among multiple news organizations reporting the feline onslaught.

Here’s my favorite one I’ve seen thus far posted with the tag #BrusselsLockdown — it’s a parody of a painting by Rene Magritte, a Belgian Surrealist and one of my favorite artists. It’s of a cat called Chagritte. It was posted by Twitter user @svengatz:

CUfdoomWEAA9RSf

“You can run,” Sven Gatz wrote. “But you cannot hide. Chagritte will get you.”

Here’s one demonstrating the force (ahem) of cats:

Twitter-Brussels-Cats-Jean-ZeidHere’s Moet the blind cat expressing solidarity with the people and cats of Brussels:

Twitter-Brussels-Cats-Moet-Blind-Cat

This issue is particularly relevant to me, more so perhaps than some other Americans. I visited Brussels two years ago and was overwhelmed by how friendly and welcoming a place it is. I had planned to return soon. Beer halls and small restaurants line narrow curvy streets. The historic Grand Platz (or Grand Place) is home to historic guild halls and the Brussels Town Hall. It’s not what one would expect from the so-called “capital of Europe” or the capital of any nation. Its pace is relaxed and joyous. It’s among my favorite places on Earth. To see photos of the Grand Platz empty except for soldiers with machine guns — and to know that terrorists want to kill people en masse for the crime of enjoying life in this beautiful place — breaks my heart.

And then came the cats. It fits my experience with the people of Brussels to see them meet terror with humor and love. Cats are the ideal ambassadors of both.

This image was posted by @Artis_Rasa:

Twitter-Brussels-Cats-All-for-One

Other users turned the humor on themselves.

Twitter-Brussels-Cats-Commando-Cat

Twitter-Brussels-Cats-Sense-of-Humor

The police thanked the cats with the following tweet, which roughly translates to, “For the cats who helped us yesterday … here you are.”

brussels-cats-police-thank-you

Brussels, everyone here at Catster hopes you remain safe, and we admire your perseverance. Keep that sense of humor. It’s a strong weapon against hatred and intolerance.

About Keith Bowers: This broad-shouldered, bald-headed, leather-clad motorcyclist also has passions for sharp clothing, silver accessories, great writing, the arts, and cats. This career journalist loves painting, sculpting, photographing, and getting on stage. He once was called “a high-powered mutant,” which also describes his cat, Thomas. He is senior editor at Catster.