Belgians Fight Terror With Twitter Cat Meme
News| | By Felissa Allard
Facing what was obviously a terrifying situation, citizens in Brussels reacted in an unexpected way.
This past weekend, still reeling from the aftermath of the Paris terror attacks, Belgian authorities continued conducting armed raids against potential terrorists in the capital city. To safeguard their operations, police pleaded with Belgians to stay inside and to refrain from posting any information about the raids on social media.
Police are asking the public not to report their movements on social media, please support & rt #BrusselsLockdown
— Steven Vandeput (@svandeput) November 22, 2015
Instead, Belgians decided to combat terror in their own way – by tweeting lighthearted and humorous pictures of their cats with the hashtag #BrusselsLockdown.
— Sandra Cormier (@Chumplet) November 23, 2015
— Ancienne Belgique (@ABconcerts) November 22, 2015
— Jayce le Satirique (@jaycelight) November 22, 2015
Within an hour, the hashtag had caught on with tweets showing cats being ridden by Star Wars Stormtroopers, playing the piano, and wielding machine guns. As of Sunday night, there were almost 200,000 mentions on the social media platform. The international community took notice; commending Belgians for the ingenious way they were demonstrating their solidarity and bravery in the face of recent terror attacks and threats.
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) November 23, 2015
— #Ajit Doval (@Ajit_Doval) November 23, 2015
On Monday, Brussels entered its third day of the lockdown with police asking residents to stay inside if possible and away from soft targets such as schools, the transit system, and shopping malls, all of which remain closed.
As of Monday, police had arrested 21 suspects in connection with their counterterrorism efforts.