Morocco braces for ‘hirak’ protests marking a year since Fikri’s death
Moroccan authorities have banned street protests commemorating the death of Mohcen Fikri, but activists have planned Saturday marches in the Rif region, Casablanca and other parts of the country.
Fikri died in Al Hoceima on October 28 last year when he was crushed to death by a trash truck while trying to salvage his wares after police threw out his market goods. That case led to charges of involuntary manslaughter and forgery of public documents filed against 11 people implicated in Fikri’s death, but it also renewed the spark of activism and calls for social and economic reform in the historically disaffected region.
The popular Al-Hirak al-Shaabi movement known as “hirak” intensified with the May arrest of Nasser Zafzafi, a prominent leader who has consistently called for peaceful protests. Zafzafi, along with 52 other people arrested in the spring, was at the Casablanca Court of Appeals this week for a hearing in his case. Amid courtroom outbursts and accusations, the proceedings were postponed until October 31.
More than 100 people including journalists were arrested this year, leading to global attention from human rights organizations and Western governments. Another round of hirak protests followed the death in August of Imad El Attabi, who sustained serious head injuries during a summer rally in Al Hoceima.
That march was planned to demand the release of Zafzafi, the journalists and other activists in the Rif region. Clashes between protesters and police became violent, with Attabi among dozens who were injured. His death, like that of Fikri, became another symbol of the cause and the demand for change.
Image: Zafzafi Facebook file