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Berber nationalist protests break out in al-Hoceima, north Morocco Open in fullscreen

Robert Cusack

Berber nationalist protests break out in al-Hoceima, north Morocco

Young protesters waving Berber flags in November protests over the death of Mohsen Fikri [AFP]

Date of publication: 7 February, 2017

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Riot police responded to numerous incidents of violence on the anniversary of the death of a prominent Berber nationalist, in scenes reminiscent of those following the death of Mohsen Fikri.

Around thirty police officers were injured in the north Moroccan town of al-Hoceima on Monday, after tear gas and rubber bullets were deployed against thousands of mostly young men.

The police closed down all roads entering into the small town after a memorial event for Rif nationalist, Mohammad ben Abd al-Karim al-Khattabi, erupted into violence.

Dozens of flags representing the local minority Berber (Amazigh) population and the independent Rif Republic state were visible in the crowd.

Interior Minister Mohamed Hassad held emergency talks with security chiefs in Rabat in response to the protests.

The town has witnessed a number of similar protests break out since the death of the fishmonger, Mohsen Fikri in October.

The local political party, Popular Movement, which organised the protests via social media has expressed feelings of frustration against the authorities in Rabat, who have imposed martial rule on the minority Amazigh population.

A leader of the Popular Movement, Nasser Zafzafi, 37, was arrested by police on Sunday after protests became violent.

The protests come amid decades of economic under-development and a high rate of unemployment, especially among young people.

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