The 37 volunteers had travelled to Adar, a village in southern Morocco, to help to repair streets. The group included both boys and girls, and their work caught the attention of local media.
However, the report on Moroccan television next caught the attention of a man in the Tanger region (in the north, some 800 kilometres from Adar), who estimated the girls were improperly dressed. In a Facebook post, he called for them to be decapitated for wearing shorts.
The Moroccan authorities managed to find the man and arrested him. He may have to appear before a judge. The Bouworde said the girls were never in danger. "They were not aware of all the commotion. They were well received in Adar and are respected by local residents", says Karen Heyligen of the Bouworde. Nevertheless, the parents of four youngsters decided to get their offspring back home.
The Bouworde decided to suspend new projects in Morocco, following an advice issued by the Belgian Foreign Office. Some 80 youngsters are involved, they will have to seek another challenge. "The embassy advised us not to send new groups to Morocco after taking soundings from the Foreign Office. The decision was made taking into account the big "publicity" that the case has received after the man's arrest, both in the press and on social media. We will follow this advice", explains Heylighen.