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When Belgian Police Ask for Media Quiet During Anti-Terrorism Raids, Citizens Tweet Adorable Cat Pictures in Response

#BrusselsLockdown gives Belgians a social media moment of levity amidst a citywide lockdown.

Image via (cc) Fflickr user nicsuzor

After the deadly terrorist attacks on Paris, all of Europe has been on heightened alert for further violence, but perhaps nowhere more so than the Belgian capital of Brussels. Schools, shopping centers, and municipal transport are in lockdown in that city as ongoing counterterrorism raids enter their third day, responding to threats of what security officials have deemed a “serious and imminent” attack. Brussels has, as a result, become a veritable shadow of its usually vibrant self.

In an effort to protect law enforcement agents conducting anti-terrorism raids and investigations, yesterday local police tweeted a request for “social media silence” regarding ongoing operations.

Image via Twitter / @polfed_presse

It’s hardly an unusual request given Twitter’s capacity to spread information—and disinformation—at a moment’s notice; a single smartphone-wielding onlooker’s tweet could potentially spoil the element of surprise officers may be counting on for a particular raid or operation.

What was unusual, though, was the response the police force got: kittens.

Using the hashtag #BrusselsLockdown, Belgians began flooding Twitter with their favorite cat pictures and memes, all cheekily making light of officials’ request to refrain from tweeting raid details.

There were Star Wars jokes:

Image via Twitter / @jaycelight

Image via Twitter / @tineeeckhout

Reassuring superhero cats:

Image via Twitter / amitbhatr

Police sniper-kitties:

Image via Twitter / towersight

And chill tabbies, using the lockdown as an opportunity for a little R&R:

Image via Twitter / @extimupperclass

Some people took the opportunity to mention the security tips put in place during the lockdown:

Image via Twitter / @m_albania

While others simply used the opportunity to praise those making the best of being stuck indoors during the raids:

Image via Twitter / @deathrep

When the latest round of police raids ended, though, the police themselves got in on the action, showing they were not above a little lighthearted playfulness during such otherwise tense and trying times.

Image via Twitter / polfed_presse

“For the cats who helped us last night,” the tweet reads.

So far, the Brussels operations reportedly have led to 21 arrests and thousands of dollars’ worth of seizures. However, their main target, one of the men believed to be among those responsible for the Paris attacks, remains at large.

[via the guardian]

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