Rabat - Nawal Benaissa, the generally accepted successor of leading activist Nasser Zefzafi, has not been arrested, despite claims there was a warrant for her arrest.
Rabat – Nawal Benaissa, the generally accepted successor of leading activist Nasser Zefzafi, has not been arrested, despite claims there was a warrant for her arrest.
In a video published on Thursday morning, Benaissa announced her plan to turn herself into the police. The activist also highlighted the constants of the movement: peaceful protests, the liberation of those detained in the Hirak, and the development of the region.
“I am not afraid, I am within my right,” was her response upon hearing the police had carried out an investigation about her and her husband, even going so far as to call it “an honor” to be arrested.
The mother-of-four said she decided to give herself up so that her parents would stop being harassed and her children would stop being scared. Authorities visited her parents’ house looking for her but were not aware that she had moved out since marrying.
Benaissa also denied that the protests were part of a separatist movement: “We have never called for independence…The Rif loves the King and the King loves the Rif.”
Benaissa arrived at the police station and left without arrest, but there are conflicting accounts about what happened during her time there.
A photographer for an international press agency present at the scene recounted: “she came to the police station with her husband thinking she would be arrested, but nobody came to look for her. As a result, she left after a few minutes.”
Benaissa however has stated that she stayed for two hours whilst policemen interrogated her. “The police wanted to know my intentions and political ideas. I explained to them that my only objective is that the inhabitants have their rights.”
The activist continued that she had always insisted upon the pacific nature of the movement, which according to her, must be followed until the legitimate demands of the people are recognized.
A statement by the coalition government published on Wednesday May 31 “stressed the right of protests to express legitimate social demands in accordance with legal procedures,” and urged there be “more positive reactions to the legitimate demands of the inhabitants of Al Hoceima and its region.”
Benaissa has been leading protests in the Sidi Abed district of Al Hoceima since Zefzafi’s arrest four days ago on May 29.
The activist joined the protest movement following the death of Mouhcine Fikri on October 28, 2016, an event that has sparked seven months of protests.
Benaissa has gained prominence since leading the women’s march on March 8, and attending a gathering in Ajdir in memory of Khattabi two months ago.
Tensions in the Rif region have been rife in recent days due to the arrest of the movement’s leader Nasser Zefzafi on Monday. He was detained after interrupting a Friday sermon he felt denounced the Hirak movement, and since being transferred to Casablanca for investigation, he has been charged with “obstructing the right of worship” and “undermining state security.”