A group Belgian teenage girls are returning home from volunteer work for a charity in Morocco after a local school teacher allegedly threatened to behead them, for wearing shorts. Images of the girls at a construction site in Morocco appeared on social media and prompted the beheading threat and criticism from a Moroccan politician.
What kind of parents would allow their teenage daughters to do volunteer work in a dangerous Muslim country? The incident comes less than a month after three Moroccan men were sentenced to death for murdering two Scandinavian women in a popular hiking area in the Moroccan Atlas mountains.
RT The girls were part of a group of nearly 40 volunteers who were helping to build a road in the remote village of Adar. The charity that organized the trip, Bouworde, posted a video of their activities on social media, prompting the 26-year-old teacher to unleash beheading threats because their attire didn’t “respect the Muslim faith.”
“Their heads should be cut off so that no one else dares to challenge the teachings of our religion,” the offended teacher wrote. The violent threats led Morocco’s National Judicial Police to arrest him for inciting terrorism.
The volunteers’ clothing also attracted the attention of Moroccan lawmaker Ali El Asri, a member of the ruling Justice and Development Party (PJD), who said: “Since when do Europeans start working in clothing that is meant for sunbathing?”
Al-Araby Footage of the girls labouring under the hot sun while dressed in shorts in a village in the south of the country was published by local news website last week. “People are very kind and very friendly, I love Morocco,” one of the teenagers says in the video.
The Belgian organization that sent the group said on Wednesday that three of the teenagers have returned early from the trip because of the controversy and that it will stop trips to Morocco.
“On the advice of foreign affairs, Bouworde has suspended all volunteer work in Morocco,” a spokeswoman told Belgian media.
“Our young people, who were very well received in the village, knew nothing. But after the news spread online, we received phone calls from concerned parents. It is very unfortunate that the positivism of our young people is thwarted on Facebook by one man. Everyone is disappointed.”
Morocco regularly features in lists of tourism destinations that are the most dangerous for women to travel alone.
In this video, only the first girl is speaking in English: