Zakaria Bembouzza claims that he fears being arrested for his participation in Hirak Rif protests in Al Hoceima province.
Rabat – The Spanish government has refused to grant asylum to Zakaria Bembouzza, a 21-year old man from Al Hoceima. His request was based on the claim that he fears being apprehended by Moroccan officials for his alleged participation in the Al Hoceima protests in 2016 and 2017.
The protests hit the province after the death of Mouhcine Fikri, a local fishmonger who was crushed in a garbage truck in October 2016. The protests aimed to condemn social disparities in the region.
Spanish news outlet El Faro De Melilla reported that the young Moroccan national, who studies law in Tangier, does not see a future for himself in Morocco.
The 21-year old man submitted his asylum request on March 28 in Melilla, after crossing the Beni Enzar border.
Speaking to an El Faro, Benmbouzza said he does not consider himself to be Moroccan. When asked about his future should he return to Morocco, the 21 year old said, “black, in prison, this is clear, I see nothing else.”
Read Also: Two Hirak Protesters Leave Hoceima Prison
Benmbouzza’s asylum claim was refused on the grounds that he is Moroccan, however the activist sees himself as a “Rif republican.”. The self-declared activist claims that the Rif is “under the occupation of the Moroccan regime.”
In addition to Benmbouzza, Spain also denied asylum to Abdelkarim Oudriss, Mustapha Bellouch, and Azis Belharch.
El Faro de Melilla said that the claimants are all from Nador, but declared themselves to be activists from Rif.
In 2018, the Spanish government received a “record-breaking” number of requests for asylum. El Pais said that the number reached 54,000 requests. The country, however, accepted a “far lower rate” of requests compared to other European countries. Spain accepted only 12, 000 claims last year.
In the same year, Spain received 765 asylum requests from Moroccan migrants. Spain only granted asylum to 55 of the claimants.
Most of the asylum seekers’ claims have been accepted due to their sexual or gender identity.
Hirak Rif activists are also among those who have gained political asylum, according to the Spanish newspaper.
Spanish Secretary for Migration Consuelo Rumi explained that applications from Moroccans for political asylum are generally rejected because Spain does not view Moroccan migrants as refugees.
The minster said, during her 2018 visit to the country, that Morocco is not a “country whose inhabitants are granted asylum or refuge.”