Nov 03, 2016

Amazigh: Protests Arise in Morocco after Death of Fish Vendor

Photo courtesy of: AFP Photo/Fadel Senna 2016 @YahooNews

Massive protests have erupted in Morocco after the death of fish vendor Mohsin Fikri on 28 October 2016. Fikri was crushed by a garbage truck in the city of Al-Hoceima when he tried to retrieve his fish which had been confiscated by the police. According to the World Amazigh Congress (CMA), the tragedy is but one example of the government’s ruthless abuse of power against ordinary citizens, as well as of the overall disregard and economic marginalization of the Amazigh-populated Rif region. In many of the rallies sparked by this latest injustice, the Amazigh flag was waved alongside the Rifian flag, the emblem of the Rif’s pro-democracy, regional movement.

The article below was published by Nationalia:

Rif and Amazigh flags appear in many pictures of the protests that these days are taking place in Morocco after the death of a fish vendor crushed by a garbage truck. Disappointment with government policies, corruption and economic problems converge in the protests in Rif with a sense of regional alienation.

"Hogra" is a word that means both contempt, abuse of authority and injustice. The word is being heard a lot these days in Al-Hoceima, the city in Morocco's northern Rif region where young man Mohsin Fikri died on October 28 [2016] crushed inside the garbage collection truck, while trying to recover some of his fish that the Police had confiscated.

His death —which evokes that of Tunisian fruit seller Mohamed Bouazizi in 2010, which sparked the Arab Springs— has led thousands of people in the streets, not only Al-Hoceima but also in other cities. Protesters are demanding an investigation into the facts —which the government has promised— and an end to abuses of power against citizens.

But in Al-Hoceima, social hogra merges with another sense of abandonment, that of the Amazigh-populated Rif region, which suffers from high unemployment rates and economic marginalization.

"This drama is that of disregard of people from those in power (police officers, gendarmes, administration, Makhzen)," a World Amazigh Congress (CMA) statement undersigned by its president Kamira Nait Sid reads. "It is also the drama of poverty in this Amazigh Rif region, which for decades has been marginalized and relegated just because its people refused to submit to the Makhzen," that is, the network of the power centered around the king.

Morocco's National Federation of Amazigh Associations (FNAA), meanwhile, has called on "all components of the Amazigh people" and "Moroccan human rights and democracy bodies" to fight "against Islamist obscurantism and racist Arabism." The Moroccan government is headed by the Islamist Party of Justice and Development (PJD).