RABAT - Morocco has escorted a Dutch ship which offers women around the world abortions out of its territorial waters after denying it access as the government accused organizers of trying to distract attention from their failure.
The whole action was a publicity stunt, an official source told Radio Netherlands on Friday, October 5.
The organizers took everyone for a ride.
Women on Waves had announced that the abortion boat would arrive in Smir on Thursday. The Moroccan navy blocked the ship from docking for several hours.
But late on Thursday, the abortion rights activists claimed that they had actually sent a yacht into Smir several days earlier because they feared the Moroccan authorities would block their vessel.
The Moroccan interior ministry said the vessel had left the harbor, but claimed it was a diversion to distract attention from the failure of the real abortion ship to make port.
The ministry said it was "just a yacht with two Dutch citizens on board" and said it had arrived in Smir on September 2.
"The two Dutch citizens raised a banner on Thursday afternoon in a sign of solidarity with the boat in question, to try to deflect the media attention from, and cover up the failure of this operation," the ministry added in a statement cited by Sky News.
Championed by Women on Wave non-profit organization, abortion ship has stirred criticism in Morocco after announcing its first visit to a Muslim-majority country.
Organizers claimed they were invited by a local Moroccan organization, the Alternative Movement for Individual Liberties (MALI), to promote abortion in the country.
But the Moroccan government says the Dutch boat did not have permission to enter the country.
In a statement on Thursday, the health ministry called for preventing the ship from docking in Moroccan territorial waters.
It said abortion is a medical procedure governed by specific legal provisions that define the case of legal abortion.
As the ship approached territorial waters, hundreds of people gathered in Smir to protest against the vessel's visit.
Demonstrators shouted slogans and waved banners reading "life is a divine gift that must be preserved", according to the MAP news agency.
Abortion is banned in Islam unless for health reasons.
While Islam permits preventing pregnancy for valid reasons, it does not allow doing violence to it once it occurs.
Muslim jurists have agreed unanimously that after the fetus is completely formed and has been given a soul, abortion is haram.
It is also a crime, the commission of which is prohibited to the Muslims because it constitutes an offense against a complete, living human being.