Wednesday, 18 September 2019 10:10 GMT

Morocco- Moroccan Professor Released From 'Humiliating' Detention in Belgium

(MENAFN - Morocco World News) By Safaa Kasraoui and Sana Elouazi Rabat - After spending three days in the Steenokkerzeel detention center in Belgium for allegedly not having enough money to finance his stay in the country, Moroccan professor Abdelkader Hakkou was released on Sunday. On Friday, Hakkou headed to Belgium after he received an invitation from the Free University of Brussels (ULB) in order to take part in an inter-university mission for a development cooperation project on the sustainable management of palm and date palm cultivation. After landing at Charleroi airport on Friday, Hakko was prevented from leaving the airport by the Belgian authorities, who then detained him in the closed center of Steenokkerzeel, a Dutch-speaking Belgian municipality in the Flemish Region. Authorities said that Hakkou's papers were not in order, and that there was a refoulement procedure in place. Authorities claimed that Hakkou, who is also vice-president of Oujda's Mohammed I University, could not afford to finance his stay in the country and thus did not fulfill the conditions for entering in Belgium. Humiliation After his release, the professor strongly condemned his detention, saying that he was "humiliated." "I stayed all night on a metal chair, it is humiliating. It is hard to accept," the professor told the press. Hakkou added that he was surprised by the way he was received by the airport authorities while his ULB colleagues were waiting just outside. "What a spiral of events I lived these two and a half days! It is a shame for a democratic country that respects human rights," reported Maghreb Arab Press (MAP). ULB Responds to Airport Authorities The arrest shocked not only Hakkou but also the university, who strongly denounced his arrest Nicolas Dassonville, spokesperson of the university, said after his arrest was reported that "it is absolutely absurd that he is in detention. This is not the first time he has been to Belgium or Europe. It is very surprising that this is happening." The university spokesperson affirmed then that the professor is on an official trip in the country. "We will ensure that the professor will be released as soon as possible, because we have all the documents that prove that he is on the Belgian territory for a development cooperation project for which it is financed." At the time, one of the professors has already visited the closed center of Steenokkerzeel to bring documents proving Professor Hakkou's cooperation mission. ULB explained that it had "appointed a lawyer to get him out of the closed center as quickly as possible," a procedure that led to his release on Sunday. For Yvon Englert, rector of the ULB "[Belgium] needs to open to up to the world. We especially need the university to have serene collaborations with all countries, including those from the south, and I would like to remind you that this professor is here in the context of a collaboration financed by public money, which makes the situation even more surreal." The university rector believes that "Belgium is going the wrong way. We must stop running behind the extreme right. This is not the right"


Morocco-  Moroccan Professor Released From 'Humiliating' Detention in Belgium


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