“I sometimes get told I’m a racist”

Mia Doornaert is a veteran Flemish journalist and opinionmaker from Brussels.  The capital has been getting a bad press because of the high number of corona cases, but Mia believes not all Brussels municipalities should be tarred with the same brush when it comes to the observance of corona measures. 

Mia, who is now aged 75, has lived in the Belgian and Flemish capital for half a century: “In Elsene, where I live, the people are complying with the safety measures” she insists.

Brussels, the city that is now getting stick because of the high number of corona cases, holds no secrets for Mia.  She believes there is a big difference depending on the municipality and, as a result, you can’t say things are going in a bad way “in Brussels”.

“I live in Elsene, in a pleasant area without high-rise, with boulevards lined with trees and the Terkameren Wood just around the corner.  It’s very different from Schaarbeek or Molenbeek.  On this side of Brussels most people comply with the safety rules.”

“When I take public transport, I do notice some people are not always observing all the rules.  When somebody wears a face covering under the nose, I make a sign indicating they should cover their face.  I believe it’s my duty as a citizen.  I’m often sneered at, and when this somebody is of foreign heritage, I sometimes get told I’m a racist.  That’s why I’m taking the car more often now.”

Mia Doornaert isn’t afraid of the high number of cases: “I follow the safety rules, because it’s idiotic to take risks.  It’s a lonely time for me.  My husband died 15 years ago.  At the beginning of the lockdown I thought it wouldn’t be too bad.  After all I’m used to it.”

“But it’s quite different when you have activities during the day.  I usually give a lot of talks, especially on cruises.  All these projects have evaporated and there are no more contacts.  It’s giving me a hard time.  Add to that the fact there doesn’t seem to be light at the end of the tunnel…“

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