While in Brussels

anastasis brussels

Today we woke up to the sound of sirens. Our producer could not reach us on the phone and sent us a message from Spain. Please tell us you’re safe guys, what can I do from here? After that we were glued to the screens of our laptops to get the slow dripping of news. There where two bombs at the airport and four metro stations where attacked. No, wait… only one metro station. Oh, another attack on the metro? No, that was a controlled explosion by the police. Then the message from the theater director. Guys, we’re cancelling tonight’s show. No one will come, public transport doesn’t run.

So there you have it. Sadness over the lost lives, anger about this reality in which anyone might think blowing up an airport or metro station is a solution for anything. But also, let’s admit it, fear. Fear of being a victim ourselves (we where lucky to be very far from either attack), but also fear of being seen as a perpetrator. The neighbour who looks at our skin and unkept beards and might call the special forces to arrest us. Should we go out with our backpacks and long black coats? But it’s cold and we don’t want to carry our laptops in our hands.

When the Bataclan club was attacked in Paris we considered for the first time what it meant to be a performing artist in todays political climate. Was the club attacked because the band was American? Or was it because the owner of the club was Jewish? How likely is it that we can be a target of such an attack, an Iranian and an Israeli together on stage with a message of friendship? There’s enough nutcases that take offence to such a thing. It needs only one with a bomb or a kalashnikov.

Today for the first time a show was cancelled as a result of a terrorist attack. Maybe it’s for the best. Today is the day to mourn the dead, make sure the living are safe. What has been a reality for decades in the countries we come from has reached our new homes. We have to ask ourselves tough questions about how we deal with this reality. As Middle-Easterners, as Europeans. As artists. The questions will be tough and the answers will not be clear. We will definitely disagree about issues, we might even fight.

But one thing will be sure, our fights will be with words and music, and we will not leave the stage. We hope to see you at the next show.

– Sahand, Raphael, Anastasis and Bas –

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