Demonstrators chanted slogans of solidarity with Nasser Zefzafi, the imprisoned leader of the Hirak Rif Movement.
Rabat – Thousands of activists took to the streets of Casablanca yesterday to condemn social inequalities and demand democracy.
The Moroccan Social Front (FSM) organized the protest with the aim of rejecting anti-democratic policies, social injustice, and economic pitfalls in the country.
FSM is a new social movement comprised of civil society organizations, unions, and four left-wing political parties.
The protestors began the march in Casablanca’s Al-Nasr Square.
Protestors waved banners and chanted slogans calling for greater human rights and rejecting the crackdown on Moroccan activists and social media users.
Demonstrators also protested against unemployment, the high cost of living, and the decline in public services in Morocco.
The activists also demanded the release of all political prisoners, particularly those detained in the Rif protests, and shouted statements of solidarity with Nasser Zefzafi, the imprisoned leader of the Hirak Rif Movement.
In 2017, a Casablanca court found Zefzafi guilty on charges of “attacks on the internal and external security of the State,” “violence with premeditation,” and “disturbing the public order.”
The court sentenced 39 other people in connection with the Hirak movement. Zefzafi is one of the activists facing 20 years in prison.
The Hirak movement began in 2016 after the death of Mouhcine Fikri, an informal sector fish seller, in the predominantly Amazigh Rif region.
Human rights in Morocco
Although the UN Human Rights Committee gave Morocco an “A” grade for satisfactorily implementing the UN’s priority human rights recommendations in 2019, NGOs have consistently condemned alleged violations in the country.
The Amnesty International (AI) 2019 Review on human rights in the MENA region accused Moroccan authorities of “harassing journalists, bloggers, artists, and activists for expressing their point of view on Morocco’s institutions.”
“They restricted the rights to freedom of association and assembly by preventing some groups critical of the authorities from operating and using unnecessary or excessive force to disperse demonstrations,” the report’s section on Morocco outlined.
The Moroccan government rejected the report, concluding that AI uses “generalizations and assessments that are not based on concrete data.”
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has also denounced social and political conditions in the country several times.
Most recently, HRW called for Moroccan authorities to immediately free activists, artists, and other citizens who are serving prison terms as punishment for comments made online.
“Moroccan authorities have, since September 2019, arrested and prosecuted at least 10 activists, artists, or other citizens who did nothing but peacefully express critical opinions via Facebook posts, YouTube videos, or rap songs,” the international NGO stated on February 6.
“The authorities should immediately free those who are being detained for exercising their right to freedom of expression and drop the charges.”