Skateboarding and unity in Brussels — The Paris attacks pushed Brussels into the centre of Europe's debate about immigration, intolerance and radicalisation. Ursulines skatepark offers a refreshing counterpoint, here kids from all backgrounds skate together in peace.

After November’s Paris terror attacks in which 130 people died, attention quickly shifted to the Belgian capital, Brussels. Police raided properties believed to have been used in planning the attacks and the city was put on a security lockdown. The terror alert was raised to four, the highest level. Army convoys cruised the streets, businesses were closed and police requested a social media blackout.

Huck travelled to Brussels to meet a multicultural group of teenage skaters and see life under the lockdown through their eyes. We wanted to find out about their experiences of growing up in a place being described by some as the poster child for failed integration: a divided city of immigrant ghettos, no-go zones and Europe’s radicalisation capital. Huck found something different altogether.

At Ursulines skatepark in central Brussels, we met kids from all different backgrounds coming together to skate, to jam and just hang out. Fatima, 21, a student from Casablanca, Morocco; Ramy, 19, who grew up in Barcelona with Moroccan/Egyptian roots; and Daniela, 17, who’s Belgian/Bolivian, are part of a diverse group of friends, including Belgians and first and second generation immigrant kids from Thailand, Poland, Greece, Turkey and elsewhere.

The crew invited us to their evening hangout at The Hangar, an indoor DIY skatepark next to the Brussels canal, where they skate and play music together as Rumble Pit. Through spending two days in their world, we found music, skateboarding and the kids’ punk attitude to life proved stronger than the cultural, racial and religious differences that many would expect to drive them apart.

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