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Cayman couple concerned for family back in Belgium

A couple from Belgium now living in Cayman will continue to monitor events in Brussels, but the two are not entirely surprised over Tuesday’s (22 March) suicide bombings in two locations that killed at least 30 people.

Ellen Cuylaerts and Michael Maes were born and raised in nearby Antwerp, but left eight years ago and now work around the world in filmmaking and photography. They says Belgium has felt less safe over the past several years. The two point to large-scale immigration that began a generation ago that failed to address issues that led to cultural friction, animosity, crime and now a willingness to coordinate with militants who plan attacks in Belgium, France and elsewhere.

“We all knew something was going to happen,” said Ms. Cuylaerts, “It was only a matter of when and how. It’s just not a place I’m happy to go to anymore.”

They say the answer isn’t closing Belgium’s borders, nor is it to force immigrants to shed all of their cultural norms, but to have tolerance that flows from guests as well as hosts.

“Belgium is still a good country,” Ms. Cuylaerts said, “It has very nice people. And it’s innocent people that just had their lives change.”

“It’s children,” Mr. Maes added.

About the author

Patrick Kreitlow

Patrick Kreitlow

Pat Kreitlow joined the Cayman 27 staff in October 2015. For nearly a decade, Pat was a familiar presence in living rooms across western Wisconsin where he was a reporter and nightly news anchor at WEAU-TV. He later served his neighbors as a state senator. When he and his wife Sharry became “empty nesters,” they moved to Grand Cayman in early 2014. They have two daughters and two grandsons.

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