Morocco:People, police clash in al-Hoceima

Youths demonstrate against the government, in al-Hoceima, Morocco, June 8, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

New clashes have erupted between protesters and police in the Moroccan city of al-Hoceima, where people have been holding anti-government demonstrations since the death of a fishmonger late last year.

Dozens of youths threw stones at police forces in the Sidi Abed neighborhood of al-Hoceima on Thursday, as police fired tear gas to disperse them.

A police officer and a protester were injured in the clashes, which lasted two hours.

While the government has been calling for calm, al-Hoceima has been the scene of non-stop unrest since Mouhcine Fikri, the fishmonger, was killed inside a garbage compactor in October 2016. He had climbed into the compactor to retrieve his merchandise seized by local officials but was pressed to death when the compactor was activated.

There are allegations that the local officials at the scene knew he was inside when they started the machine. The government has denied that accusation, however.

The protests have taken new dimensions as well, with people also protesting corruption, underdevelopment, and unemployment. They say the Rif region, where al-Hoceima is located, has long been neglected by the government.

Rabat has done little to assuage the people’s concerns in Rif. Authorities arrested protest leader Nasser Zefzafi on May 29, sparking a new wave of protests. Other activists have been arrested since then as well.

The Thursday clashes were a first instance of violence in days of largely peaceful demonstrations.

Rif was also a flashpoint during a popular revolt against the rule of Moroccan King Mohamed VI in 2011, when uprisings and revolutions began in several Arab monarchies in the Middle East and North Africa. The king relinquished some of his powers back then, but the death of Fikri gave rise to new protests.

By Africafrique and agencies

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