Jean Francois Thiry: “Terrorism Is Born Out of Hopelessness”

Jean Francois Thiry | 28 March 2016
Jean Francois Thiry, a Belgian, came to Russia more than twenty years ago and stayed there. He became the director of a Christian center called “Pokrovsky Vorota” (The Pokrovsky Gate). A tragedy took place at Jean Francois' birthplace: terrorist attacks took the lives of 31 people in Brussels. Jean Francois shared his feelings about the incident with Pravmir.com.

No one was hurt from my family and friends, but it is no consolation to me, because a lot of other people suffered and they were somebody’s brothers and sisters as well. The incident is a tragedy for all of us.

I was in Italy when I heard about the explosions. In the morning I was among my friends from Rome and someone came to me and asked whether I knew about the terrorist attacks in Belgium. The first thing I felt was horror and confusion, because the alleged organizer of the attacks in Paris had been arrested only the day before. At such moments as these, one immediately feels that the thread of life is very fragile and can suddenly break at any moment. Any act that one performs can be the last one and thus, one should do it for the sake of the Eternity. Who knows what will happen to this very person tomorrow?

The terrorist attacks in Europe prove that terrorism has been exported. It is no news to Russia and now it is time for Europe to recognize this too. We are witnesses of global changes. Terrorism can now reach us even in “safe” countries. What should be the degree of our responsibility? What does this reality call us to do?

I was in Italy, but even Italians will have to answer these questions, because there is a large number of migrants there as well. We should understand how to accept migrants and what European culture can offer. The choice of terrorists (the choice of death) is the choice that is made out of hopelessness. This is a challenge for European culture. What can we offer to this world?

Unfortunately, I did not see any sign of heightened security measures at the Italian airport. There was no metal detectors at the entrance to the airport. Perhaps, something will change after the yesterday’s incident. The situation was better at the railway station where passengers’ tickets were checked, but there were still no metal detectors. Certainly, I saw the forces which protected some property in Rome. The Catholic Church declared this year the Year of Mercy. Therefore, many pilgrims come there and that is why there are armed forces guarding some buildings.

I am glad that people still wish to accept migrants and that Christian spirit prevails among people which calls us to accept someone who is in trouble and support them. I talked with Christians, of course, but I was impressed that no one thought migrants were our enemies. We have a Christian responsibility towards the flow of migrants. This is indeed the fight with terrorism. Even the one who organized the Paris attacks used to be simply a petty thief at first, who grew up in a disadvantaged atmosphere. Terrorism is born out of hopelessness. This is the responsibility of our society to help migrants and provide them with an opportunity to realize their potential.

This speech was recorded by Anna Utkina.

Translated from the Russian by Maria Trushanina

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