Shootings in Brussels: how to react?

Two Swedish football fans were shot dead by a suspected radical Islamist attacker in Brussels on Monday. The perpetrator fled from the scene but was later shot dead by police. According to the Belgian authorities, he was a rejected asylum seeker who had been in the country illegally since 2020. In a video released shortly after the attack, the perpetrator declared his allegiance to the Islamic State. Europe's press is appalled.

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Corriere della Sera (IT) /

Waiting for the moment to strike

Corriere della Sera voices concern:

“The murderers have returned to the streets of Europe, but perhaps they never left. They were just waiting for a relaunch, for something that would reawaken their desire to kill after the territorial defeat of Islamic State. The Koran burnings in Sweden, the resurgence of tensions, the war in Gaza were the trigger. The constant appeals from preachers, ideologues and factions convinced them that the time had come to pull out their knives and guns and hunt down defenceless prey.”

Dagens Nyheter (SE) /

Wearing the Swedish jersey with pride

Sweden should and will continue to stand openly by its values, affirms Dagens Nyheter:

“Swedish football fans in Brussels have been told to take off their jerseys or hide them. ... This was necessary as a short-term security measure but the terrorists want it to be permanent. We're supposed to give up the values that the blue and yellow represent - the basic values of Swedish society, where Christians, Muslims and Jews can freely express their faith and where it's also fine if you don't believe in any faith. Where freedom of expression is far-reaching. ... The terrorists want to divide and sow mistrust. ... We will never allow them to do that. We will wear the Swedish jersey with pride.”

Expressen (SE) /

From terrorist exporter to target

Sweden is facing a new and precarious situation, Expressen warns:

“For a long time, Sweden was primarily a base for violent terrorism. Gullible politicians and sloppy legislation contributed to making our country a major exporter of death and violence. Sweden is one of those Western countries from which the highest percentage of citizens has travelled abroad to support terrorist groups in Somalia, Syria and Iraq and to join their armed struggle. However, with a few exceptions, Sweden itself and Swedish targets abroad have been spared jihadist terrorist attacks. This now seems to be changing. The terrorist attack in Brussels could be followed by others.”

La Libre Belgique (BE) /

Rapid repatriation of radicalised migrants

La Libre Belgique calls for a crackdown on radicalism and irregular migration:

“The Brussels Region must quickly set up a pragmatic, firm and efficient integration programme. At the same time, a person who is to be deported must be deported, in accordance with the rule of law. The Belgian and French authorities must not confine themselves to creating 'S cards' [to flag up persons who are considered a serious threat] for radicalised individuals. Our intelligence services must have the means to track, arrest and expel them if they are here illegally. Moreover, the hotbeds of radicalism must be neutralised, starting with prisons, from which some fanatics emerge even more determined to take action.”

Jutarnji list (HR) /

This city is out of control

Brussels has a problem and not only with terrorists, Jutarnji list points out:

“Although not acts of terrorism, murders are not uncommon on Brussels' streets. Settlings of scores between mafiosi are frequent occurences, especially in neighbourhoods like Anderlecht. The police have no control over illegal immigrants whose asylum applications have been rejected, and there are not enough deportations to improve the situation. ... This attack is a reminder of how vulnerable Brussels remains when it comes to the threat of terrorism. This is most evident in the images of Swedish fans being escorted not only out of the stadium but out of Belgium itself, as if they were being evacuated from a war zone.”

Polityka (PL) /

Don't mix this up with Middle East escalation

Polityka advises taking care not to confuse one thing with another:

“Even though this is already the second deadly attack apparently carried out by a radical Islamist on our continent within a week, it should be commented on with caution - especially in view of the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. The EU is desperately trying to raise its profile on the international stage. ... This makes it all the more important not to prematurely link concrete reactions with events arising from completely different social phenomena and processes.”