Rabat - Sidi Abid, the epicenter of demonstrations in Al Hoceima in Rif region, saw escalating clashes between protesters and security forces on Thursday.
Rabat – Sidi Abid, the epicenter of demonstrations in Al Hoceima in Rif region, saw escalating clashes between protesters and security forces on Thursday.
Dozens of young protesters threw rocks at riot police, who responded by firing tear gas.
Nightly peaceful demonstrations had been taking place in the neighborhood throughout Ramadan. But on Thursday, a group of young men unexpectedly gathered around 5 p.m. to protest, before police forcers began pushing them away.
Clashes ensued between the two, resulting in a protester’s head injury after being hit with a baton, while a policeman was injured in the jaw by a rock thrown by one of the protesters. Many of the protesters were arrested, AFP reported.
A video surfaced on Facebook showing the moment when two squads of riot police pushed and started chasing down the protesters.Local authorities said the protesters tried to occupy a road, which prompting the intervention of security forces.
The situation in Al Hoceima and neighboring town Imzouren remains tense following the arrests of civil activists, including key figures such as Nasser Zefzafi, Nabil Ahamjik, and Silya Ziani.
Dozens of detained activists in Al Hoceima and Casablanca, where they were transferred for investigation ahead of their trial, have been handed serious charges, such as “undermining state security” and “undermining the loyalty of citizens to state institutions”.One lawyer representing the detainees described the charges as an indication the government has adopted a hard-line approach to deal with the seven months protests.
Releasing detained activists has become the primary demand of the protests, which started back in October 2016 as a response to the death of the local fishmonger Mouhcine Fikri, who was fatally crushed by garbage truck compactor while trying to retrieve swordfish discarded by authorities.
Seen as Morocco’s Mohamed Bouazizi, the Tunisian fruit seller whose death ignited Arab Spring revolutions, Fikri’s death awakened Moroccans to the reality of high unemployment rates lack of adequate health institutions in Al Hoceima, and revived memories of the troubled past between the Rif region and the central government.