Social unrest in northern Morocco

2017-05-29 21:31
Chanting protesters crowd the streets during a demonstration against corruption, repression and unemployment in the northern city of al-Hoceima. (AFP)

Chanting protesters crowd the streets during a demonstration against corruption, repression and unemployment in the northern city of al-Hoceima. (AFP)

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Rabat - Main developments since the death in October 2016 of a fishmonger in northern Morocco sparked social unrest in the long-marginalised Rif region.

Death of a fishmonger

On October 28, 2016, Mouhcine Fikri, 31, is crushed in the back of a rubbish truck at Al-Hoceima as he protests against the seizure of swordfish caught out of season.

The circumstances of his death go viral on social media, sparking calls for protests nationwide, including in the capital Rabat and leading to a grassroots movement demanding jobs and economic development.

King Mohammed VI orders a "thorough and exhaustive investigation".

The indignation spreads

On October 30 thousands attend Fikri's funeral in the ethnically Berber Rif region, neglected and at the heart of a 2011 protest movement for reform.

Al-Hoceima is shaken by a wave of popular demonstrations in November and December, and protests are held in several other northern towns as well as Rabat and Casablanca to demand justice.

Protesters wave the flags of the Amazigh, Morocco's Berber community.

Clashes in Al-Hoceima

On January 5, 2017, police disperse a protest in Al-Hoceima.

A month later, clashes erupt between protesters and police. Around 30 policemen are injured.

On March 26, demonstrators throw stones at a police station near Imzouren, southeast of Al-Hoceima. Fourteen people arrested.

Two days later the provincial governor is fired.

'Social earthquake' brewing

On April 11, new Interior Minister Abdelouafi Laftit visits Al-Hoceima and says the state is committed to the area's development, while also criticising those "who are exploiting the protest movement".

On April 27, a court sentences seven people to between five and eight months in prison over Fikri's death.

In early May, local media reports say the anger brewing in northern Morocco has turned into a "social earthquake".

Nasser Zefzafi, leader of Al-Hirak al-Shaabi, or "Popular Movement", says: "Our demands are economic and social, there has never been a question of creation of an independent state."

"For six months we have been resisting... And we will resist until they respond to our demands for the economic and social development of our region," he says.

Protest leader Zefzafi held

On May 26, Zefzafi allegedly interrupts a preacher at a mosque in Al-Hoceima and calls for further protests.

Authorities order his arrest but he manages to escape.

Protests are held on Friday and Saturday in Al-Hoceima, with demonstrators clashing with police, and also in other cities.

Zefzafi is arrested on May 29. The prosecutor of Al-Hoceima says he was detained with other individuals and they will be investigated for "undermining the security of the state" and other criminal acts.

Read more on:    morocco  |  north africa

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