San Antonio man from Belgium: 'People are trying to stay strong'

Tragedy through the eyes of a Belgium-native watching from afar

SAN ANTONIO – A Belgium-native who now lives in San Antonio said he woke up Tuesday morning to the news of the terrorist attacks in Brussels.

Amine Taibi looked down at his phone as his fingers scrolled through pictures and videos of his home, Belgium.

"I was born and raised in Belgium, about 20 minutes from Brussels," he said.

He scanned through images of destruction and tragedy.

"It's a very small country, so it's very, very hard to actually accept it," he said.

Taibi woke up Tuesday at his home in San Antonio to dozens of messages from friends and family in Belgium.

"They were just panicking. That could have been them," he said.

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Thankfully, his family is safe, but it was a close call for some friends.

"My friend, he works (in) downtown Brussels and he normally takes that subway around that same time to work, but he had some kind of training today so he decided to drive his car," he said, calling the coincidence unbelievable.

Most of his friends are OK, but he's still waiting to hear about others. Facebook has been his main connection to his home.

"Most are posting about what is happening," he said. "A friend of mine was like, 'There's helicopters here with a gun sticking out.' You don't even want to look out of the window. You keep your head inside."

His concern and anger was quelled when he scrolled through images of the main square in Brussels, the ground covered with flowers and writing in chalk.

"Five women went and and they took some chalk and started writing messages on the floor. 'Hang in there' and 'Brussels forever.' People from all over the place were joining in," Taibi said.

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As a Muslim, he hopes there won't be backlash toward Islam, which he explains, has no connection to ISIS extremists.

"In Belgium, we have a lot of Muslim people, Jewish people, Christian people, and I just hope that for them, they get to the point, like, 'Look, we're all together against ISIS here.' Because if you start saying, 'It's your people,' 'No, it's your people,' you're going to start dividing people, and that's what ISIS wants," he said.

He hopes for unity and that love will outweigh hate and fear. 

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