"I had nothing to do with this, but people look at me different, like they scare of me or something," Miguel told Abreu Report.
Like a lot of Dominicans, Miguel is often confused for Moroccan due to his olive skin, short curly hair, and round, neutral face. "I felt like I was part of here before, but now not so much, I don't feel very welcome here since the explosions last year," he told us.
The attacks carried out in Paris a few months ago, planned from Belgium, have shone negative light on the neighborhood of Molenbeek, and it has recently come under intense scrutiny from authorities and the international media. "I don't see a cop here as a friend, they always look at me suspicious, it's scary," Miguel explained.
The French government recently deployed 1,600 extra officers, and the Belgians deployed over 200, as a show of force against terror, but in a manner that some see as threatening Europe's democratic institutions. Belgium has recently come under derision in the international media, with some seeing it as a failed state due to its inability to elect a functioning government. "The French speakers and Dutch speakers don't really get along... they can't assimilate themselves into their own country, I learned both languages but I am still an outsider here and feel I will always be," Miguel said.
|Trapped in a militarizing state. ©Abreu Report|
Miguel's opinions mirror that of many immigrants in Europe, who increasingly believe that a hostile security environment makes it impossible for them to assimilate.
Some immigrants see assimilation as marrying a family, one that is hostile to them before they join: "My ex-wife was French and her family treated me as if I hated them because I didn't learn French, so they barely spoke to me. When I learned French, they still didn't speak to me, no one did. People are afraid of me here," Miguel believes.
Some immigrants are afraid of ending up at the scene of a terror attack not just because they fear for life and limb, but because they believe that they will be treated as suspects long before they are treated as victims: "I'm afraid if I get injured in an attack, the police will let me bleed out on the street because they think I'm the bomber," Miguel lamented.
"I really think this attack may convince me to return to the Dominican Republic."