Once again, the world struggled to make sense of another horrific terror attack on Tuesday morning — this time, three possibly coordinated terror strikes in Brussels killed at least two dozen people, according to multiple news sources, and left more than 130 more wounded. The early morning bombings at the capital city’s major airport and a central subway station were an eerie reminder of the slate of explosions that rocked Paris late last year. And on Tuesday, as after the Nov. 13 attacks around Paris, people offered touching Facebook tributes to the Brussels attack victims. But many of the tributes did more than offer sympathy for everyone affected; quite a few made insightful, heartfelt statements calling for compassion and tolerance in the face of violence.
The hours that followed the wave of bombings in Brussels brought few details on the people who actually carried out the attacks, though Belgian officials called the assaults “suicide bombings,” possibly fueled by last week’s capture of Paris bombing suspect Salah Abdeslam, according to BBC News. By late Tuesday morning ET, members of the terror group ISIS had claimed responsibility for the bombings, according to The Independent, saying in a statement that the attackers had used “explosive belts and devices” to carry out the brutal assaults.
But even as authorities grappled with efforts to calm concerns in Belgium and other Western countries, the message from Facebook users was one of solidarity and strength as people from around the world took to social media to offer words of support to the Brussels attack victims.
Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel posted messages in French, Dutch, and English saying that the nation was “united and gathered” to stand against the attackers, who he called “cowards":
Kosovo’s London ambassador, Lirim Greicevcei, said he was “shocked” by the Brussels attacks and stressed that those responsible for the bombings would “not succeed to break the spirit of the free world":
Later, at least a handful of messages on Facebook became more divisive as several U.S. leaders and presidential candidates came forward to frame the brutal assault as evidence that American immigration policy should be more restrictive, ignoring evidence that a scant few Muslim immigrants have been linked to terrorism in the U.S. Instead, most coming to this country take on low-wage (and often undesirable) jobs in order to escape the threat of violence in their own countries. However, for the most part, the sentiment on Tuesday was one of solidarity and mourning.
Social media continues to be the best, most natural way for people to express sadness, grief, and outrage that — once again — an entire city is left reeling because of a brutal act of violence.