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Protests in Morocco after fish vendor's death

October 31, 2016

Morocco has promised an investigation after mass protests in the monarchy's north, triggered by the death of a fish vendor. Sunday's demonstrations were called by the February 20 movement active during the Arab Spring.

Marokko Proteste in Al-Hoceima
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/A. Senna

On Monday authorities promised an investigation into the brutal death of a fish vendor in the northern city of Hoceima, which led to mass protests that recalled the demonstrations that followed the self-immolation of a Tunisian street vendor during the so-called Arab Spring.

The incident that triggered the protests occurred on Friday after police apparently threw away Mouhcine Fikri's swordfish, which is forbidden from being fished at this time of year. Fikri reportedly dived into the back of a garbage truck to retrieve his wares, only to be crushed to death by the vehicle's mechanism.

Marokko Proteste in Al-Hoceima
Demonstrations took place across multiple cities on SundayImage: picture-alliance/AP Photo/A. Bounhar

Fikri's death in the ethnically Berber region of the Rif - an area long-neglected by the country's monarchy - sparked outrage on social media, where images of the fish vendor's lifeless body partially sticking out from underneath the truck's crushing mechanism were circulated.

Activists involved with the February 20 movement, which organized protests during the Arab Spring, called for demonstrations on Sunday. Thousands of Moroccans reportedly took to the streets of various cities across the country in protest against "Hogra," a Maghreb phrase referring to official injustice.

Marokko Proteste in Al-Hoceima
Morocco is slated to host the COP22 climate talks in NovemberImage: picture-alliance/dpa/A. Senna

Shades of 'Arab Spring'

Additionally, thousands attended Fikri's funeral on Sunday, and some demonstrations resumed on Monday morning.

In an effort to calm tensions, Morocco's King Mohamed called for an investigation, while the country's interior minister, Mohamed Hassad, vowed to punish those responsible. Meanwhile, the General Directorate for National Security released a statement saying that its officers were not involved in Fikri's death.

The king was able to quell much of the anger in the country during the Arab Spring, devolving some of his authority during a constitutional reform. Since then, the government has closely monitored protests, nervous of a repeat of 2011.

The protests come as the country prepares to host the COP22 climate talks in Marrakesh beginning on November 7.

blc/msh  (AP, Reuters, AFP)

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