This past weekend, Brussels (Belgian's capital) was placed under lockdown because of a "serious and imminent threat" of a potential terrorist attack. Authorities closed schools, universities, and public transit, all of which remained closed as recently as Monday (November 23). In order to ensure that the suspects they were tracking could not in turn track them, the federal police requested, via Twitter, that the public stay quiet about any anti-terror operations, especially on social media.https://twitter.com/PolFed_presse/status/668525939324813312
For security, please respect the radio silence on social media concerning the police operations underway in Brussels. Thanks
The sentiment was echoed by Steven Vandeput, the Defense Minister, who used the hashtag #BrusslesLockdown. Twitter users from Brussels responded in the best possible way: by flooding the hashtag with cat memes. It shows both a great sense of humour and a great sense of resilience to respond to a potential terror threat with seemingly meaningless cat memes. The move was an incredibly powerful one as well. By flooding the hashtag with humour, residents were able to bury any tweets that could have impeded the police, still enforce the requested social media silence, and help each other through an ongoing stressful and tense situation.
Some tweets were of those protecting the city:https://twitter.com/amitbhatr/status/668555983547981824 https://twitter.com/Gilles_PPDE/status/668559921164742656 https://twitter.com/loredewitte/status/668558619491848192 https://twitter.com/jaycelight/status/668536938778009600
Others showed off more playful feline reactions:https://twitter.com/Senficon/status/668567704002035712 https://twitter.com/stephokeeffe/status/668553823464644610 https://twitter.com/lorevonck/status/668537620004237312 https://twitter.com/ExTimUpperClass/status/668547367726108673
Cats from around the world eventually showed their solidarity:https://twitter.com/DrLeonJ/status/668560586943438848 https://twitter.com/tony_colville/status/668553130628485126
The humour and strong will displayed by the Belgian residents was noticed by the authorities, who first tweeted how thankful they were that those complied with their requested social media silence:https://twitter.com/CrisiscenterBE/status/668560093793808384
The federal police also responded with thanks, in a wonderfully playful tweet.https://twitter.com/FedPol_pers/status/668749104655302656
For all those cats who helped us yesterday...Please!
The lockdown is still in place, and authorities anticipate it will remain that way until Wednesday.