A Lacombe resident with ties to Belgium hopes the terrorist attacks in Brussels last week and insults by U.S. Republican candidate Donald Trump who called Brussels a “hellhole” earlier this year does not taint the small European country.
“A hellhole is a place of squalor and misery. Belgium is not. Belgium is a wonderful little country,” said Andrew Nokes, 61, who was born in the United Kingdom and lived in Belgium for 11 years before becoming a Canadian citizen.
“A lot of people don’t know much about it, and it’s certainly not a hellhole,” said Nokes who works in the chemical industry at Joffre.
Nokes said he was tempted not to say anything but wrote the Advocate a letter to the editor out of concern that people may agree with Trump and his anti-Brussels rant.
Nokes found out about the explosions at the Brussels Airport and Maalbeek metro station early Tuesday from his ex-wife who lives in Brussels.
His ex-inlaws also live in Brussels and one of his daughters and grandchildren live in a small town in southern Belgium. Everyone was safe.
Attacks by three Islamic State suicide bombers killed 28 people and injured about 330.
Nokes said people in Brussels are likely feel anxious, and he would too. But labeling the country a terrorist hotbed is wrong.
“I don’t think the terrorists have anything against Belgium. Belgium just happens to be a convenient place to do what they did.
“Bear in mind (attacks) have happened in London. It’s happened in Paris. It’s happened in Spain. It’s part of today’s life. You just hope it’s not going to be to you.”
He said the country has a history of rallying back from misfortune with a fighting spirit.
“It’s a country with a very rich cultural background. Quite a diverse collection nationalities. I think they will recover very quick.”
Nokes plans to visit the U.K. and Belgium this summer with his 15-year-old daughter.