Thousands of Moroccans protest demanding release of activists

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Thousands of Moroccans protest demanding release of activists (Reuters)

Thousands of Moroccans protested in downtown Rabat on Sunday demanding the release of 42 activists who rallied against economic and social problems in the northern Rif region in late 2016 and 2017.

Thousands of Moroccans protest demanding release of activists (Reuters)

The march was organized by political and civil rights groups, as well as the families of the detainees.

Chanting “freedom, dignity and social justice”, “long live the Rif”, and “the people want immediate release of Rif detainees”, they carried flags of the Amazigh community and pictures of the jailed activists.

The Hitsk Rif organized protests in 2016 and 2017 after the death of a fishmonger in Al-Hoceima, a town in Rif.

A fishmonger, Mohcine Fikri, was crushed to death by a rubbish lorry whilst trying to recover his fish which had been confiscated by local police.

The incident prompted a wave of anger and thousands took to the streets, accusing authorities of corruption and abuse of power.

In June 2018, a court sentenced Nasser Zefzaki, the leader of Hirak Rif, to 20 years in prison.

The same term was given to activists Ouassim El Boustati and Samir Ghid, while others were given sentences of up to 15 years.

Earlier this month, a court in Casablanca upheld 20-year prison sentences against Nasser Zefzafi, Nail Ahamjik, Ouassim Boutstati and Samir Ighid on charges of threatening national unity.

Another 35 activists were jailed for between two and 15 years and once received a one-year suspended sentence.

The demonstrators also called for the release of journalist Hamid El Mahdaoui who covered the Rif protests and received a three-year jail sentence on the charge of not reporting a crime against state security after receiving a phone call from a Moroccan living abroad saying he would introduce arms to Morocco.

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