Dispute Over Swordfish Sparks Mass Anti-Government Protests In Morocco

Activist Nasser Zefzafi was arrested for allegedly interrupting a preacher at a mosque, and calling for further demonstrations against corrupt officials.


Protests erupted in Al Hoceima, Morocco, following the tragic death of a fishmonger last year in October. Mouhcine Fikri was crushed to death inside a garbage truck after he jumped in to recover his fish, which was confiscated by the police.

Fikri’s death sparked outrage against "Hogra," a colloquial Derja Arabic term for deprivation of dignity because of official abuses or corruption, and prompted some of the largest protests since Arab Spring uprising of early 2011.

“The goods were worth a lot of money,” said Fassal Aoussar from the Moroccan Association of Human Rights. “The salesman threw himself in after his fish and was crushed by the machine. The whole of the Rif is in shock and boiling over.”

The fishmonger was accompanied by his friends who managed to escape, but Fikri was crushed to death brutally by the alleged vile treatment of the corrupt police officers.

Protests have been simmering in the Rif region against the law enforcement officials abusing power that should be used to safeguard people.

In such times of distress, activist Nasser Zefzafi, emerged as the leader of the Al-Hirak al-Shaabi, or "Popular Movement," based largely in Al-Hoceima. The activist organized massive protest movement against the unjust officials.

However, the 39-year-old was recently arrested for reportedly interrupting a preacher at a mosque, where he called for further demonstrations. According to the prosecutors’ statement, those detained would be investigated for "undermining the security of the state" and other criminal acts.

The government arrested an activist for voicing a pertinent matter but hasn’t done much to control the lack of justice and unemployment rates in the country.

According to data issued by Morocco’s statistics office (HCP), the number of the unemployed population grew by 63,000 people between the first quarter of 2016. During the same period in 2017, that number grew to 1,296,000.

Banner/thumbnail credit: Reuters 

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