Morocco: Belgian Volunteer Girls Threatened with Beheading for Working in Shorts
Group of teen students volunteering for the summer targeted by Moroccan Islamists
A group of teenage Belgian students, who traveled to Morocco to do volunteer work for their summer vacation, has been targetted by Morrocan Islamists who were threatening to behead the young girls because "they work in shorts," according to reports.
A local man was arrested by police after uttering death threats to teen volunteers while they did work for the Bouworde, a construction non-profit organization.
The Bouworde has now decided to suspend new projects in Morocco, following the advice of the Foreign Office and the embassy.
The group of 37 volunteers had traveled to southern Morocco to help to repair streets in the village of Adar.
The group, which included both boys and girls, soon caught the attention of local media over allegations that it was "improper" for girls to wear shorts to work in the hot sun.
Following local news reports, users on Facebook called for the teens to be decapitated for wearing shorts.
Among the Facebook users calling for such punishment was an elementary school teacher, who urged on social media to behead the girls “so that nobody can challenge Islam’s teachings.”
The case was even raised in parliament by a Senator with the pro-Islamist Justice and Development Party, Sen. Ali El Asri, who asked: ”Is construction work in Europe ever carried out in a bathing suit?”
”Everybody knows how the issue of security on the job is important in Europe: tourists can’t get near construction sites without wearing helmets, appropriate clothes, and gloves,” he argued.
In the village close to Taroudant, the senator also claimed that summer clothing was not necessary because ”it is a rural and conservative area.”
Despite the controversy, the students "were not aware of all the commotion," says Karen Heyligen of the Bouworde.
The 26-year-old teacher was tracked down by the authorities and arrested for instigating terrorism after making the threatening calls online.
The teacher posted a comment on Facebook saying: ”You are absolutely right, they should be beheaded so that nobody can challenge our religion’s teachings.”
The post was taken down within 24 hours.
The lawmaker formally asked the interior ministry to examine the documentation and ascertain the true nature of the initiative.
The young women were working to build a street as part of the non-profit organization.
The Bouworde has been promoting humanitarian projects for over 14 years in the North-African country.
Under the scorching sun, they were working in a T-shirt and shorts and posting photos and videos on Facebook.
The students have now traveled safely back to Belgium.