Brussels’ Citizens Flood Social Media With Cats

As Belgian police and armed forces combed the city of Brussels on November 22 in the aftermath of the Paris terrorist attacks and threats to their own city, the officially asked the residents to stay off social media. While the residents honored the request, they didn’t maintain social media silence entirely.

Sunday was a somber day for Belgium, and Brussels in particular. The city was on lockdown, being under the highest security alert level, with terrorist attacks an imminent threat. Businesses were closed. Residents were ordered to shelter-in-place, avoiding windows for their own safety. One thousand police were helping in the manhunt for the fugitive, Salah Abdeslam, thought to be an accomplice in the terror attacks on civilians in Paris.

Quick-thinking officials requested Brussels’ residents to stay off social media to avoid broadcasting specific police activity, perhaps tipping off suspects. There was no moral outcry about freedom of speech, but also there was no stoppage of social media activity. The citizens responded by posting and tweeting and pinning photos, memes, videos of cats. The hashtag #BrusselsLockdown accompanied many of the posts/tweets. Brussels’ residents may have been under imminent threat of attack, but they had not lost their sense of humor.

Despite the efforts of Belgian police, Abdeslam remains at large. Police report they’ve detained 21 people thus far for their efforts.

November 23 is the third straight day of lockdown in the city. Businesses remain closed; schools are closed. The subway has been shuttered. Citizens are advised to avoid public gathering places. There are troops and tanks yet in this capital city of 1.9 million people. At this time, there is no word on when the lockdown will be lifted.

Maybe when this crisis has past, what will be remembered will be the response of Brussels’ residents — and Brussels cats.


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