March 28, 2011 / 3:12 PM / 9 years ago

Moroccan teachers to strike after violent protests

RABAT (Reuters) - Teachers in Morocco will stage a two-day nationwide strike starting on Tuesday after two recent demonstrations for better benefits ended in violence, union officials said on Monday.

Moroccan police had on Thursday and Saturday clashed with teachers demonstrating in the capital Rabat. Organisers said 170 people were injured in Saturday’s clashes.

“Unions will show their solidarity with the teachers and condemn the barbarous way the peaceful demonstration of teachers was suppressed and stage a 48-hour strike,” three Moroccan unions representing teachers said in a statement.

Local organiser Said Nazizi said 165 people were hurt, 65 seriously, including people with broken limbs or gashes from beatings by police. Unions said 50 were taken to hospital.

Interior Ministry and police officials declined to comment on the violence.

Various groups have stepped up protests in Morocco in recent weeks, emboldened by successful uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia. Tens of thousands gathered in cities across the kingdom earlier this month in one of the largest anti-government protests in decades.

Although many of the protests in the Arab world are focused on removing their rulers, most demonstrators in Morocco are not seeking to topple King Mohammed, who this month promised in a speech constitutional reform. Instead, they are seeking political rights, and end to corruption and various social benefits.

“The speech delivered by the king is not enough,” Nazizi said. “There is nothing on the ground, nothing in reality.”

Nazizi, like most protestors in Morocco, said he did not want to remove the king, only to see his role limited to the largely ceremonial function played by monarchs in Spain or Britain.

“We don’t want him to do everything,” the teacher said. “We want the parliament to decide.”

Teachers are seeking improved benefits although other groups want expanded political rights, an end to corruption and various social benefits.

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