A group of Moroccan political and cultural representatives have launched an online petition in support of the Belgian volunteers who have been at the center of a media controversy this week for wearing shorts.
Rabat – “WEAR YOUR SHORTS” reads the petition, which was launched yesterday on Facebook.
The petition, among other things, asks Moroccan politician Ali El Asri to step down because of comments he made on social media regarding a group of young Belgian volunteers.
The volunteers from the organization Bouworde have caused a media controversy this week. On Saturday August 3, Moroccan news outlets shared videos and photos of the volunteers building a road in the remote village of Adar, east of Agadir. The girls were praised in the media for their initiative.
However, the girls’ attire, short shorts, was quick to receive criticism.
A 26 year old teacher from the north of Morocco posted on Facebook that “their heads should be cut off so that no one else dares to challenge the teachings of our religion.” He was arrested on Tuesday, August 6, by Moroccan police.
A parliamentary member of the Justice and Development Party (PJD) Ali El Asri also criticized the group’s clothing, and suggested the group’s volunteer initiative had an ulterior motive.
“Is it humanitarian or does it have other goals, bearing in mind the region is still well known for its conservatism and intolerance towards westernization and nudity?” he said on Facebook.
The comments have angered many, and a group of four Moroccan political and cultural representatives have launched an online petition supporting the Belgian volunteers, condemning the teacher, and demanding the politician step down.
“We assure these young girls of our support, our friendship, and our thanks,” the petition reads.
“[We] ask that the teacher be brought to justice for supporting terrorism, and that the deputy resign.”
“They are not Morocco!!!!” it emphasizes.
“We can’t leave these types of comments without a response.”
The writer Narjis Rerhaye, alongside the founder of the association “Marocains Pluriels” promoting diversity and tolerance, Ahmed Ghayet, political leader Ouafa Hajji, and the president of the Moroccan Association for Journalism Najib Senhadji launched the petition.