Travel Diary Brussels – Pleasure of Winter

“After our walking tour in Amsterdam, I didn’t expect that the walking tour in Brussels could be so much interesting, thanks to our guide, Magali (Maggy). I want to admit that she inspired me to write and share following paragraphs.”

Brussels started to become the Capital for European Union (EU) in 1957 when the member of EU were only six countries (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and Netherlands). By any chance, Brussels was appointed simply because Belgium starts with letter B. Funny fact! Since then the lives and societies in Brussels have been changed and currently Brussels is the second most multi-cultural city in the world after Dubai. Brussels is recognized as bilinguals city in Belgium with official languages of French and Dutch. Therefore, the name of the streets, stations, menus and other elements in Brussels are both in French and Dutch.
Being a home of many cultures, origins and religions, Brussels wisely carries the theme of “Plaisir d’Hiver” in French, “Winter Pret” in Dutch or in English “Pleasure of Winter” rather than the theme with Christmas depiction.
After the tour in Anne Frank House, I felt the fear of being Jewish during the Holocaust in World War II, the same fear was for being Catholics in Netherlands where Protestant was dominating and by taking into account the current tension caused by religions in the world, somehow it is indeed reasonable to set aside religion in social life. Not to banish completely the religion but instead to practice the religion privately. Isn’t God everywhere? Doesn’t Him hear anything we say in silent?
Being Indonesian, I honestly had a mind set that western people were not into religion, that most of them were atheist, that they were too spoiled to follow any religious rules. I must admit that I was living in that wrong point of view of the Western world for years. They, even not all of them, do practice their religion, they do pray before meal, they do gracefully respect their God. They do have religion without being exposed.
Now that I experience how religion could be used in a wrong way to kill people, I condemn those whose, in the name of religion, put a terror to innocent lives. I am Muslim and it was not easy to explain that my religion has nothing to do with the attacks, bombs and other tragedies. The questions would raise even more after the attack in Berlin lately.
At this point, I do agree, not only with Brussels, but with other cities that respect their citizens who live in diversities, to carry the theme in everyday life without any religious allegory.

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