Moroccan parliament urges explanation amid Rif police violence scandal

The Moroccan parliament wants to know “everything” about what has happened in Al-Hoceima after calling for the rights of protesters.

Morocco’s ruling party summoned the interior minister to discuss concerns over escalations in the Rif region as protests against the arrest of popular opposition leader Nasser Zefzafi approach the tenth night.

The Party of Justice and Development (PJD) called on Abdelouafi Laftit after growing condemnation for Moroccan authorities’ handling of the “peaceful protests” in the Rif region, as photos and videos of protesters covered in blood due to police brutality emerged on social media.

It comes after the six political parties that make up the Moroccan parliamentary majority issued a statement on June 2 urging authorities to respect the rights of the protesters while urging more “positive” government interaction.

“We want to know everything about what has happened in the Al-Hoceima city and its region, the reasons for the disputes, the protests, but also the proposed solutions and the situation in regards to laws and rights,” a parliamentary source said, according to Morocco World News.

Various local Moroccan outlets have also reported that Moroccan King Mohammed V summoned the main political parties on Saturday to discuss the escalating situation after parties called for his involvement in de-escalating the conflict.

The protests in the Berber dominated Rif region can be traced back to October 2016 when Mouhcine Fikri, a fishmonger in Al-Hoceima tried to prevent government backed city authorities from destroying his merchandise, swordfish, which are banned during the season.

The 31-year-old was crushed as he was run over by a rubbish truck while protesting. A photo of him circulated on social networks, showing him dead, his head and his arm surpassing the compacting mechanism.

The Rif region began to instigate calls for justice for Fikri, in a movement which quickly evolved into a grassroots movement demanding jobs and economic development.

Nasser Zefzafi soon emerged as the leader of the Al-Hirak al-Shaabi, or “Popular Movement”.

Since Zefzafi’s arrest, two women, Nawal Ben Aissa and Cilia Ziani, have emerged as leaders of the Al-Hirak movement.