Yearning for a free Morocco

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Months of protests have rocked the northern coast of Morocco, triggered by the gruesome death of fish seller Mohsin Fikri last autumn. Mehdi Rafiq explains the deep roots of discontent in the region.

For more than ten months the Rif region on Morocco’s northern coast has been aflame with protest. On 20 July baton-wielding riot police used tear gas to chase hundreds of chanting demonstrators through the streets of the provincial capital Al Hoceima, as they gathered to call for the release of political prisoners and for an end to the clampdown. Over the following days thousands took to the streets of neighbouring towns in the region in angry demonstrations condemning this latest round of repression.

Trouble in Tangiers

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"The people demand the fall of the regime" now echoes through the streets of Morocco too. The movement against the Moroccan regime is growing. The army and the police are increasingly committing more resources in order to intimidate activists. For example, a demonstration called for 13 January was met with considerable police repression. This month marks the second anniversary of the 20 February Movement. Hakima Aouragh and Mo Achahbar spoke to activist Abdelilah Alilbit about the protests.

On 13 January, people took to the streets en masse demanding bread, freedom and social justice. An unprecedented number of police blocked all roads to the "Square of Change" in Tangiers (officially called Tifelt Square - activists have renamed it.).

Some leading figures from the 20 February Movement were arrested at their front doors with the police claiming that "the order came from high up". Nevertheless, activists still managed to stage sit-ins and playful protests at several locations around the city.

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