The Brussels Shrine Has A Symbolic Meaning

It has been less than a week since ISIS-inspired terrorists carried out a series of attacks in the capital city of Belgium, killing more than 30 people and injuring hundreds others. The city — and the world — has mourned the violence in the days following the attacks, which occurred at the Brussels international airport and a subway station. Near the locations of the attacks, a shrine has developed in Brussels for mourners to gather around, but it hasn't remained entirely peaceful.

On Tuesday morning in Brussels, two explosions rocked the airport, while another rattled the Maelbeek metro station, located near many diplomatic and official buildings in the center of the city. The attacks seemed all-too-reminiscent of last year's tragic attacks in Paris. There, a series of coordinated bombings and shootings around the city killed 130 people and wounded many others. Investigators believe that some of the same people could have been involved in planning and carrying out both attacks, as ISIS has claimed responsibility in both instances.

As survivors, neighbors, and visitors from abroad mourn those lost on Tuesday and call for peace, tributes have accumulated near the center of Brussels, but not at either of the scenes of the attacks. Mourners have gathered in front of the Brussels stock exchange, in an open square known as the Place de la Bourse. Unfortunately, though, in a place that desperately needs peace, the shrine devolved away from peace over the weekend, as police used water cannons to quell rioters on the scene.


Around the plaza, visitors have laid flowers, candles, signs, and other tributes to honor the victims of Tuesday's attacks. They've also left flags, showing international support for Belgium as the threat of terrorism remains high throughout Europe. Day in and day out, crowds have flocked to the square to pay respects and to try to understand what happened nearby.

Although it wasn't directly impacted by Tuesday's attacks, the site outside the stock exchange is a somewhat symbolic place for a shrine. The stock exchange is just one Belgian institution that connects the country to the rest of Europe and other parts of the world. In 2000, the Brussels stock exchange merged with its counterparts in Paris and Amsterdam (later joined by Lisbon, Portugal) to form a pan-European trading system. Today, the stock exchange is part of a larger system that joins the New York Stock Exchange with European exchanges.


In the midst of the grieving that has taken place there, protests have also broken out at the square. On Sunday, police took action to calm things after anti-ISIS demonstrators, some of whom were affiliated with right-wing groups, marched through the square and threw explosive materials at police. Still, the tributes remain and the international show of support will continue.