Rif Protests: With Leading Activists Detained, Some Demonstrators Turn to Violence

Rabat - As clashes in Al Hoceima between riot police and protesters continued on Thursday in the protest epicenter neighborhoods Sidi Abid and Diour Al Malik, the Al Hirak movement risks ceasing being peaceful.

“Silmiya, silmiya” (“peaceful, peaceful”) has been more than just a slogan chanted by protesters in Al Hoceima for the last eight months, despite the Ministry of Interior’s decision in recent weeks to favor a security approach in dealing with demonstrations.

Bearing the arrest of several leading activists and law enforcement oppression of demonstrations, the movement has largely remained peaceful, a characteristic that helped win wide support for it in and outside Morocco.

However, as news site Le Desk reports, on Thursday night some “young protesters have totally changed the setting of the face-off” with police forces.

Scenes of massive rallies, Riffian flags floating in the air, and protesters galvanized around leaders are now over as the leading activists have almost all been arrested.

“Al Hirak has turned into battles with police forces, [with] rocks thrown versus fired tear gas till late at night,” writes Le Desk.

The website explains that some protesters have demonstrated they no longer believe in the peacefulness of protests, now reacting to police forces’ attempts to counter their gathering by throwing projectiles. As a result, anti-riot police responded by firing tear gas.

The news site said that the chilling wave of arrests of Al Hirak’s main activists has had a negative impact on the movement. Deprived from its leaders, Al Hirak is now prone to respond with violence.

As a result of the clashes, some women protesters taking part in protests were asphyxiated. Police officers have also been injured by projectiles and taken to hospital. Some protesters fled the scene of clashes, while others used their t-shirts as masks to protect themselves against tear gas and continued throwing rocks at the police.

The situation in Al Hoceima and the surrounding area appears to be heading for more tension.

On Wednesday, Al Hoceima’s court of First Instance sentenced 34 activists, giving sentences ranging from two months to a year and a half in prison for “violence against the security forces,” “unauthorized demonstrations,” “rebellion,” and “deterioration of public property.”

Other activists, including Al Hirak’s most prominent members such as Nasser Zafzafi, Nabil Ahemjik and Silya Ziani, are currently in detention in Casablanca.

They have been accused of serious charges including “undermining state security” and threatening the “unity” of the country.

The release the detainees has been the main demand in recent weeks by the population in Al Hoceima and the supporters of Al Hirak all over Morocco.





  • The Moroccan Gold Eldorado

    The Moroccan Gold Eldorado, a Myth or a Reality?

    Rabat - Recently, a conspiracy theory video about a large gold discovery in Morocco is making rounds online. The video claims that a substantial gold reserve was discovered and is being extracted by a Canadian mining company called Maya Gold and Silver. We Moroccans are very proud human beings, we love our country and cherish...

  • Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani

    Qatar: How the Tables Are Turning in The Gulf

    Rabat - Amidst harsh sanctions and a long list of demands from its neighbors, Qatar’s ability to thrive under pressure may prove to be problematic for Saudi Arabia. As Saudi Arabia and its coalition attempt to wait out Qatar, the recent spat in the Gulf continues to become more and more global, and severely against...

  • FILE - In this Jan. 20, 2015 file photo, a plume of steam billows from the coal-fired Merrimack Station in Bow, N.H. If the nation doesn’t do more, the U.S. probably won’t quite meet the dramatic heat-trapping gas reduction goal it promised in last year’s Paris agreement to battle climate change, according to a new study. (AP Photo/Jim Cole, File)

    Climate Change : If You Can’t Measure It, You Can’t Fix It

    Chefchaouen - Climate change is happening at home and around the world. Chefchaouen is doing its part by embracing clean energy climate solutions and engaging its citizens in climate action. When it comes to fighting climate change, cities and local leaders are best positioned to lead that charge. Local leaders from coastal to landlocked communities are...

  • 20

    India Orders Internal Probe into Mistaken Use of Morocco-Spain Border Picture

    Hyderabad - The Indian Ministry of Interior on Wednesday ordered an internal investigation to find out how a picture of Morocco-Spain border was used in its annual report to show floodlights along the India-Pakistan border. What is most embarrassing is that the annual report of previous years was tabled during the Budget Session of Indian...

  • Amid Growing Tension, Thousands of Moroccans Stage Pro-Rif March in Rabat

    Neglect in Harsh Soil: The Deep Roots of the Rif Crisis

    Rabat - The ongoing protests in northern Morocco started almost eight months ago, but they have their origin in nearly a century of violent repression by the state. The Rif has, in spite of itself, got involved into a peaceful revolt since the death of the fishmonger Mohcine Fikri at the end of October 2016, a...

  • Tamim Bin Hamad al Thani emir of Qatar

    The Qatar Crisis: What Does It Mean?

    Rabat - The recent diplomatic fallout between Qatar and the rest of the Middle East could have serious economic and geopolitical consequences across the globe. Earlier this week, Qatar’s diplomatic crisis took an extreme turn as several Arab states severed diplomatic ties with the Gulf nation.  The original list of countries in the coalition against...

  • Moroccans spend Laylat al-Qadr, the 26th day of Ramadan, at the Hassan II mosque in Casablanca.

    Ramadan: Not just Abstinence from Daily Intakes 

    By Abdellatif Oudra Rabat - The observance of Ramadan, one of the five pillars of Islam, compels Muslims to fast from sunrise to sunset. But it is not just about abstaining from food or drink.  Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, is observed in commemoration of the revelation of Qur’an to the prophet Mohammad,...

  • Morocco Threatens to Terminate Agriculture Agreement with Europe

    Morocco and the EU: Managing the Future

    Rabat - Morocco enjoys proximity to Europe and is at an advantage of being favoured by the European Union as a close partner on political, economic, and cultural levels. Historical archives and political legacies tie Morocco directly with at least three influential European countries: France, Spain, and England. Demography, kinship, and immigration compel other EU...

  • The Educational and Cultural Implications of the Arab Spring

    The Educational and Cultural Implications of the Arab 'Spring'

    Rabat - In the last ten years or so, the Arab world has seen unprecedented collapses in the realms of politics and economy, among others. World NGOs regularly release area-specific rankings, in which Arab nations commonly rank at the bottom of lists in education, human rights, and income for instance while they top those of...

  • Thousands Hold Peaceful Demonstration in Memory of Mouhcine Fikri

    Al Hoceima and the Pedagogical Exercise

    Ottawa - What makes a democracy different from non-democracy? This is the classical and historical question asked by philosophers over the centuries and deeply questioned in the discipline of political science. Democracy cannot prevent inequality as the case in the United States where inequality is the highest globally. Democracy cannot stop corruption like in Brazil...