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Moroccans continue to protest death of fishmonger

1 November 2016 14:53

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Thousands of Moroccans have staged protests for a fourth straight day across the North African country over the death of a fish seller who was crushed in a garbage truck during a scuffle with police.

Protests were held in the capital Rabat and Al Hoceima where Mouhcine Fikri died on Friday, with participants blaming the royal establishment for the death.

Fikri’s death has sparked one of the largest protests in the country since 2011 when unrest in nearby states brought down several regimes in what came to be known as the Arab Spring.

Fikri’s gruesome death has been likened to that of a Tunisian vendor in 2010 that touched off the Arab Spring uprisings.

The Moroccan monarchy weathered the Arab Spring upheaval but Fikri’s death has put the rulers on edge.

In an effort to calm tensions, Moroccan King Mohamed VI who is currently on a tour of Africa ordered his interior minister to visit the victim’s family and to ensure a “meticulous” investigation.

The order, however, did little to mollify the protesters. Outraged students in Al Hoceima boycotted schools on Monday, a day after the death sparked protests in more than 20 cities across the nation. “Criminals, assassins, terrorists,” they shouted.

Samir Bennis, editor in chief of Morocco World News, was quoted as saying that the government did not do enough to tackle the abuse of power.

“So with these protests Moroccans are trying to communicate to the government that they have had enough of this impunity and of this abuse of power,” he said.


Protesters attend a rally in Rabat on October 30, 2016 after the death of a fishmonger inside a rubbish truck in Al Hoceima. (Photo by Reuters)

Prosecutors said on Tuesday 11 people had been arrested over the death and brought before an investigating magistrate in connection with allegations of involuntary manslaughter and forgery of public documents.

As the protests continued, the circumstances of the fishmonger’s death remained unclear on Monday.

A human rights activist said authorities had thrown several boxes of fish into the garbage truck, prompting Fikri to jump inside in a desperate attempt to retrieve them when he was caught in the crusher.

On Sunday, thousands followed an ambulance that carried Fikri’s body through Al Hoceima in the ethnically Berber region of Rif.

“The whole of the Rif is in shock and boiling over,” Fassal Aoussar from the local branch of the Moroccan Association of Human Rights (AMDH) said.

The Rif region, long neglected under the father of the current king, was at the heart of Morocco’s protests in 2011, dubbed as the February 20 movement.

“The people of the Rif won’t be humiliated,” they chanted on Monday.

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