By editor - 19 April, 2016
President Michael D Higgins will attend an interfaith service of commemoration in Dublin’s Donnybrook parish today for the victims of last month’s Brussels attacks.
The service has been arranged at the request of the Ambassador of Belgium, His Excellency Philippe Roland, and will be presided over by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin and Archbishop Michael Jackson.
The Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland, Archbishop Charles Brown, as well as Imam Sheikh Hussein Halawa and the Cantor of the Jewish Community will also be in attendance.
President Higgins will be joined by the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Críona Ní Dhálaigh, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Charles Flanagan, and members of the Diplomatic Corps. Members of the public have also been invited to attend.
On 22 March, the Belgian capital was hit by twin suicide bomb attacks at Brussels Airport and Maelbeek Metro station which killed 32 people.
At least 7,000 people took to the streets of Brussels on Sunday in a march “against terror and hate”.
It included some of those who had been caught up in the bomb attacks which were claimed by the so-called Islamic State militant group, which also said it was behind the gun and bomb attacks in Paris on 13 November that killed 130 people.
The march had been due to be held a week after the 22 March attacks but officials asked for it to be postponed because of the security threat.
Relatives of victims, and paramedics and airport staff affected by the attacks joined people of several religious faiths on Sunday’s march.
The march route took them past the Molenbeek neighbourhood – where many of those alleged to have carried out the attacks in both Brussels and Paris had lived.
Belgium, which has a population of about 11 million people, 5.9% of whom are Muslim, has provided the highest number of Islamic State recruits per capita in Europe, according to the United Nations Working Group.
More than 500 recruits from Belgium have gone abroad to fight with the jihadists since 2010.
The UN says 207 Belgians have travelled to Syria, while 62 were denied entry, 128 have returned home, and 77 have died fighting abroad.
The UN team also revealed that 46 foreign fighters, all associated with the group Sharia4Belgium, have been prosecuted.