The Olympian and the Terrorist
July 21, 2016 2:30 AM   Subscribe

In the weeks after the attack, a few students from Mourad's university avoided him. No one verbally hassled him, but he could sense the glances and whispering. The police sent an email to his instructors and professors asking that they make sure that Mourad wasn't harassed.

Well done the Belgian police!
posted by alasdair at 4:12 AM on July 21, 2016 [9 favorites]

The personal sphere of a public "monster" is always full of the unexpected. The interviews given by Salah Abdeslam's older brother after the Paris attacks were similarly powerful, mainly as an antidote to the de-humanising of the attackers so typical of the media (thereby exposing the habit).

As with many of the more recent attackers, there's so much to be understood/solved at a personal level - if only politics learned how to make this the cornerstone of a powerful policy (as in Aarhus and Vilvoorde) towards actual societal security...

Thanks for this post.
posted by progosk at 4:20 AM on July 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

Great article. It is so damn hard to face the talk, the whispers, the silent judgment without becoming bitter, and it sounds like he's doing a really good job of it. I'm in the middle of the Invisibilia podcast about Aarhus that progosk mentioned above, and they call it non-complementary behavior - when you don't respond in kind. I aspire to be able to do this. Thanks for posting.
posted by widdershins at 8:02 AM on July 21, 2016

"Well done the Belgian police!"
A couple years ago someone left an amateurish bomb under a seat on a train from my city into Brussels that was at least meant to go off during the morning commute. Apparently the heavily tattooed, be-mohawked, stocky, and deeply sweet but hard looking Polish husband of one of my colleagues was on that train on his way to work, and the Police were initially convinced that he had left the bomb. So a couple of days latter both he was rapidly and professionally scooped up, waited for my colleague at their home, and debriefed them on the investigation that resulted. Thankfully the police had pretty quickly realized he had nothing to do with it having followed both of them wherever they went, familiarized themselves with all of their travel and financial records, and whatever else they're able to do - but I was deeply impressed with the level of respect they had for the rights and personhood of a crusty Polish goth punk that ordinary Flemings will cross the street to avoid.

The Belgian Police have been getting a lot of well deserved negative attention for their structural failings, but land of contrasts I guess.
posted by Blasdelb at 8:40 AM on July 21, 2016 [6 favorites]

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