Protesters in Morocco wave Amazigh, Rif flags

Death of fish vendor Mohsin Fikri has sparked mass demonstrations in Rif's Al Hoceima · Groups denounce "marginalization" and "racism" against the Amazigh

Rif protests after Fikri's death.
Rif protests after Fikri's death. Author: Left: @ymouled; right: @RIFFIAN, on Twitter
Rif and Amazigh flags appear in many pictures of the protests that these days are taking place in Morocco after the death of a fish vendor crushed by a garbage truck. Disappointment with government policies, corruption and economic problems converge in the protests in Rif with a sense of regional alienation.

"Hogra" is a word that means both contempt, abuse of authority and injustice. The word is being heard a lot these days in Al-Hoceima, the city in Morocco's northern Rif region where young man Mohsin Fikri died on October 28 crushed inside the garbage collection truck, while trying to recover some of his fish that the Police had confiscated.

His death —which evokes that of Tunisian fruit seller Mohamed Bouazizi in 2010, which sparked the Arab Springs— has led thousands of people in the streets, not only Al-Hoceima but also in other cities. Protesters are demanding an investigation into the facts —which the government has promised— and an end to abuses of power against citizens.

But in Al-Hoceima, social hogra merges with another sense of abandonment, that of the Amazigh-populated Rif region, which suffers from high unemployment rates and economic marginalization.

"This drama is that of disregard of people from those in power (police officers, gendarmes, administration, Makhzen)," a World Amazigh Congress (CMA) statement undersigned by its president Kamira Nait Sid reads. "It is also the drama of poverty in this Amazigh Rif region, which for decades has been marginalized and relegated just because its people refused to submit to the Makhzen," that is, the network of the power centered around the king.

Morocco's National Federation of Amazigh Associations (FNAA), meanwhile, has called on "all components of the Amazigh people" and "Moroccan human rights and democracy bodies" to fight "against Islamist obscurantism and racist Arabism." The Moroccan government is headed by the Islamist Party of Justice and Development (PJD).