Thousands rally in north Morocco protest march
By Samia Errazzouki
AL-HOCEIMA, Morocco May 18 (Reuters) - Thousands of Moroccans marched in a northern town to protest against injustice and corruption on Thursday, seven months after a fishmonger was crushed inside a garbage truck there while trying to retrieve fish confiscated by the police.
Waving banners proclaiming "Are you a government or a gang?" and local protest flags, the march made its way peacefully through the centre of Al-Hoceima, packing the main square under the watch of police and gendarmerie checkpoints.
Political protests are rare in Morocco, but tensions in Al-Hoceima have been simmering since October following the death of fishmonger Mouhcine Fikri.
The incident sparked outrage against "hogra", a colloquial Derja Arabic term for deprivation of dignity because of official abuses or corruption, and prompted some of the largest protests since Arab Spring-inspired demonstrations in 2011.
Thursday's marchers filled the main square and local businesses shut shops, cafes and restaurants in an unprecedented show of support. Crowds booed as they passed a police station.
"Our demands are clear, we want the removal of the security presence here, we want hospitals.... we want jobs, we want universities," said 23-year old Mohammed Boumasoud, a member of the "Hirak" movement that denounces corruption.
Two police and three gendarmerie checkpoints filtered traffic entering the city, marking an increase from the usual level of security.
Moroccan authorities usually police protests heavily, nervous about unrest since the 2011 demonstrations. During those protests, Morocco's king devolved some of his authority to an elected government in a constitutional reform. Continued...