Thousands poured into the streets of Rabat on Sunday June 5 to condemn the death of a protester and to demand an end to the country-wide government crackdown on peaceful demonstrations.
“We are here today to protest the murder of Khaled al-Amari,” said a 40-year-old Rabat resident who did not give her name out of fear of the authorities. “But we are also here because we demand dignity, democracy and freedom. This repression must end.”
Last Thursday, 30-year-old Khaled al-Amari, a member of Morocco’s main opposition group, died after reportedly suffering a severe beating at the hands of police during a protest in the city of Safi. Officers deny that his death was a direct result of police violence, despite eyewitness accounts that he was severely beaten.
Police violence against peaceful demonstrators in Morocco has exploded in recent weeks, in what protesters say is a significant escalation of government repression.
The swelling crowd proceeded from the Old City down Muhammed VI Avenue, many holding pictures of Khaled al-Amari’s beaten face. Protesters chanted: “Down with despotism. We want freedom and dignity,” and “peace, peace, freedom is coming,” as they made their way to parliament. At many points in the march, protesters clasped each other’s hands, sat down in the street, or waved peace signs in the air.
“We are demanding democracy and dignity,” declared Mohammed Aghmaj. “The police are not being violent today because there was a martyr. But we know they have been violent in the past,” he said, referring to the relative calm at the demonstration. r