Joe laid to rest after intimate Brussels funeral
20 April 2006, BRUSSELS — The funeral for 17-year-old Joe Van Holsbeeck was held at the Saint Elizabeth Church in Brussels on Thursday morning.
20 April 2006
BRUSSELS — The funeral for 17-year-old Joe Van Holsbeeck was held at the Saint Elizabeth Church in Brussels on Thursday morning.
Van Holsbeeck was stabbed to death by two North African assailants at Brussels Central station on 12 April when they tried to steal his mp3 player. The culprits are still at large.
Thursday's funeral in the Haren district of Brussels was intimate and calm, as requested by the youth's family.
The family chose for a service of prayer rather than a Eucharist mass due in part to the many condolences offered by both native and immigrant Belgians.
Joe's friends from his Sea Scouts group carried the coffin into the church at 10am as the song 'Les copains d'abord' by George Brassens was played.
Brassens' 'Chanson pour l'Auvergnat' was also heard later in the service.
The Haren church was not large enough for the hundreds of people gathered and a large television screen was placed in the church square so that every mourner could follow the service.
At the start of the service, several people addressed the mourners, including Joe's brother. All speakers reminded those gathered of Joe's zest for life. A reading from the Bible was also given.
But it was the emotional words of Joe's brother that touched the hearts of many: "I hope that everything is okay. I hope that you can forget the pain, the anger, the grief and the defiance that you felt at that moment."
After mourners had paid their respects to the coffin carrying Joe's body, pieces of Moroccan bread were distributed among those present.
The bread was baked by immigrant neighbours of Joe and was shared out as a symbol of unity.
At about 11.30am, the coffin was carried out of the church by Joe's Sea Scouts friends to the music 'In the mood' and taken to the cemetery located 500 metres away from the church. Joe's body was then laid to rest.
No politicians attended the funeral service. Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt had requested MPs and party leaders to not politicise the funeral by either attending it or making public statements.
A silent march against senseless violence will be held in Brussels on Sunday at request of Brussels MP Fouad Ahidar.
[Copyright Expatica News 2006]
Subject: Belgian news