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Fish seller’s death in Morocco sparks protests against regime

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Issue 2528
A protest in Morocco during the Arab Spring 2011.The death of Mouchine Fikri has sparked protests similar to those in 2011
A protest in Morocco during the Arab Spring 2011.The death of Mouchine Fikri has sparked protests similar to those in 2011 (Pic: Magharebia/Wikimedia Commons)

Protests have broken out across Morocco in north Africa after the death of a fish seller became a symbol of anger against the regime.

Mouhcine Fikri was crushed by a compactor in a refuse truck in the northern port city of Al Hoceima on last Friday.

He had jumped in to retrieve his merchandise, which had been confiscated by police.

Police claim they turned the machine on to “send a warning”.

Protests immediately broke out in the city. Demonstrations spread to Marrakesh and Rabat, the capital, the next day.

Some activists say Fikri’s death could be as significant as that of Mohamed Bouazizi.

Bouazizi was a fruit seller in Tunisia who set himself on fire in December 2010 sparking a wider revolt that toppled a dictator.

There is bitterness over economic and political issues. About 30 percent of the population in Morocco is between the ages of 15 and 29, and there is very high unemployment. 

Al Hoceima is part of the Rif region of north Morocco. It has a history of revolt against colonialism and the Moroccan monarchy, which still holds great power.

It is significant that some protesters in other parts of the country chanted, “We are all Rif” as an act of solidarity.

King Mohammed VI has ruled since 1999. Although there were parliamentary elections in 2011 and then again last month, the King has effective control.

Oppositional forces are repressed.

The regime has close ties with the French and Spanish governments and is a close ally of the US.

Bombs in Yemen create massacre

Saudi Arabian-led coalition aircraft carried out another civilian massacre in Yemen last Saturday.

They hit a prison facility in the city of Hodeidah killing at least 60 people, including inmates, officials and medics.

One attack was followed soon by another, to wipe out rescuers. This method has been used in previous raids.

On the same day air strikes on residential buildings in Salo killed 17 people. Britain and the US supply much of the weaponry used in these raids.

Standing Rock protests against pipeline

Native Americans and activists defending the Standing Rock camp and burial grounds in North Dakota face increasing police repression.

The Sitting Rock Sioux say the Dakota Access Pipeline will destroy sacred burial grounds.

Police have deployed military-style hardware such as armoured cars and CS gas to drive back protesters.

Far right Geert Wilders on trial

Far right Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders is on trial accused of racial discrimination and inciting hatred.

In March 2014 Wilders asked a group of supporters if they wanted to have “more or fewer Moroccans” in the Netherlands.

When people responded “fewer” Wilders said, “We’ll take care of that.”

The Freedom Party hopes to make gains in elections next year. Its draft manifesto includes a promise to close every mosque in the country.

Australia bans boat refugees

Racist politicians in Australia announced last week that any refugees to arrive by boat after 19 July 2013 are to be banned for life from the country.

The Refugee Action Coalition said, “The announcement is proof positive that the government recognises that its claim that refugees from Manus and Nauru would never come to Australia is just bluster.

“The government is trying to hide the fact that its offshore detention regime is disintegrating.”

Thousands of refugee supporters were expected to attend a “Doctors’ March for Refugees” in Sydney this Saturday.

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