Rabat – A group of Belgian students are receiving backlash for mocking Islam in a ceremony to celebrate 100 days before the end of the school year.
Under the theme “Saudi Arabia,” students wore burqas and abayas at the Paters Jozefieten Catholic High School in the town of Melle in Belgium.
Videos and photos of the students wearing Muslim clothes were shared online. Some students wore keffiyeh and military clothes with fake suicide belts.
Videos also show students in a school square pretending to perform Muslim prayers with a fake imam, bowing and kneeling with outspread hands, and shouting “Allahu Akbar.”
While the ceremony was held in February, social media users have been sharing the videos throughout March, generating hundreds of thousands of comments criticizing the school.
The school principal, Jan De Gendt, apologized on behalf of the students and the school in a Facebook post.
Gendt said the school did not aim to “insult or hurt anyone. We are sorry that people in the school or outside the school were offended by our 100-days activities.”
The videos angered Muslims and non-Muslims who condemned the school for allowing students to mock Islam.
A popular radio presenter and YouTuber in Belgium, Zaki Chari, condemned the usage of the Islam theme, emphasizing that he would feel “extremely uncomfortable” if he were a student at Paters Jozefieten.
An independent MP of the Brussels Regional Parliament, Mahinur Ozdemir, also strongly criticized the school event.
Ozdemir said, “It is scandalous that these students chose the theme as ‘Islam and Saudi Arabia’ and imitated prayer moves wearing headscarves and bomb belts, therefore relating Muslims with terrorism.”
Ozdemir also accused the school of normalizing events that lead to Islamophobia.