Defiant Belgians Draw Flowers and Messages of Hope Across Brussels in Wake of Attacks: 'Love Always Wins'
34 people were killed in bomb attacks on the Brussels Airport and a metro station on Tuesday
Undeterred by the elevated terror alert, Belgians joined in solidarity on Tuesday afternoon to mourn the loss of at least 31 people who were killed in the bombing attacks perpetrated earlier Tuesday.
ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks, and Belgian authorities released photos of the suspects captured on airport closed circuit television.
Brussels residents gathered outside of the Brussels Stock Exchange and used chalk to draw moving tributes to those lost.
“We are not born to one corner. The whole world is my native land,” read one message, which was written in English inside of a heart.
Arbai Mohamed, a 21-year-old law student at the Université libre de Bruxelles tells PEOPLE that he drew “Love always wins,” among the notes. “It was really humble moment,” Mohamed says.
“People were sad. They drew what they feel in their heart,” he explains.
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Mohamed says that he was asleep when a friend woke him and told him about the two bomb attacks on the Brussels airport. “I turned my TV on and called immediately a family member who works at the airport and he told me that there were two explosions,” he says. “I was happy that he was not injured.”
He continues, “A few minutes later, I saw on Twitter that there was smoke coming out the Maalbeek underground station. Belgian national TV confirmed that something happened and we waited 30 minutes before police confirmed a bombing attack. I was going to faint.”
The student says that a friend’s colleague died in the subway station attack.
“I watched TV and social media all the morning to collect information and try to understand,” Mohamed shares. “Then I decided to go to hospital with my neighbor friend to give our blood for victims. Hospitals were saturated and we didn’t give our blood because a lack of medical staff.”
Know Right Now: Brussels Still Under Highest Terror Alert
It was then that he happened upon the makeshift chalk tribute mural in the plaza.
“They didn’t understand why the subway train, why the airport, why terrorism,” Mohamed says, adding, “Belgians are humble, pragmatic people, and we saw it in their faces. They rapidly tried to begin their day normally, without fear.”
He adds of his fellow Belgians, “We are brave. We will not be divided by mentally disturbed people with bad intentions.”
While the city’s public transit system has been suspended and the airport shut down, Mohamed says that universities and schools will open normally tomorrow, and he plans to attend his classes.
“At the end, we cry for our victims, for our traumatized children, but [not] these terrorists,” Mohamed tells PEOPLE. “We will hunt them and they will understand what is suffering.”