Three Belgian women flee Morocco after receiving decapitation threats

Images of the volunteers working at the construction site prompted the outrage and the death threat, as well as criticism from a Moroccan politician.

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August 10, 2019 18:46
2 minute read.
A MOROCCO FAN waves his national flag at a soccer match.

A MOROCCO FAN waves his national flag at a soccer match. . (photo credit: REUTERS)

Three female Belgian volunteers, helping to build a road within one of the more rural areas of Morocco, have reportedly fled the country after a school teacher in the area allegedly threatened to decapitate them for wearing shorts.

The three young women were volunteering in the village of Adar when they were reportedly told the teacher wants their "heads cut off" for wearing "skimpy" clothing – a threat not to be taken lightly after two Scandinavian hikers were murdered in the same fashion by three male extremists earlier this year.

Morocco has also been featured in an independent study claiming that it is one of the world's most dangerous countries for women to travel alone in; the country regularly appears on lists such as these.

Images of the volunteers working at the construction site prompted the teacher's outrage, the death threats as well as a criticism from a Moroccan politician.



"Since when do Europeans work in swimming suits?" Ali El-Asri, a member of the Islamist Justice and Development Party, asked in a Facebook post.

The Moroccan primary school teacher, 26, has not been named, but she allegedly called for their murders on social media to "teach a lesson to those who do not respect the Muslim faith," according to the Daily Mail and local media. She was arrested for the comments on charges of "inciting terrorist acts."

“Their heads should be cut off so that no one else dares to challenge the teachings of our religion,” the teacher said in the post.

The Belgian organization that sent the volunteer group, Bouworde, has confirmed that the teenagers left early from the trip, and that all other trips being coordinated by the group to Morocco have been suspended because of the controversy.

Bouworde volunteers have been working in these rural area of Morocco for over fifteen years, volunteering their time to help build infrastructure projects like water canals, schools and a women’s centers.

"On the advice of foreign affairs, Bouworde has suspended all volunteer work in Morocco," a spokeswoman for the organization 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.

"Three young people are now leaving home early. It is very unfortunate that the positivism of our young people is thwarted on Facebook by one man. Everyone is disappointed."

The three women were working as a part of a group of 40 volunteers. The remaining volunteers expressed their wishes to stay in the country and finish their work, after the Moroccan authorities granted them certain safety assurances.

The Moroccan public and media condemned the inciters, garnering support for the young volunteers and calling for demonstrations, as well as commissioning petitions on their behalf to stop the spread of this type of incitement within Moroccan communities.


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