Source: Arab News
AL-HOCEIMA, Morocco: Police in the northern Moroccan city of Al-Hoceima on Thursday fired tear gas to disperse protesters and stop them marching in defiance of a government ban.
Organizers from the Al-Hirak Al-Shaabi movement dubbed the demonstration the “million-man march” and said they would go ahead with it despite an injunction.
Al-Hoceima, the main port in the Rif region, has been hit by unrest since a fishmonger was crushed to death in a rubbish truck last year as he tried to retrieve swordfish confiscated for being caught out of season.
This year has seen waves of protests and bouts of violence in the Rif, where residents have long complained of neglect and marginalization.
Scores of police could be seen around Al-Hoceima since early morning, and by early afternoon they began sealing off access to all the main squares while shops were closed, an AFP journalist said.
Al-Hirak has won strong support among the region’s diaspora and many former Rif residents living abroad had returned to the city to join the march.
By late afternoon hundreds of people began gathering in several meeting points across the city intent on marching as planned, but as they tried to advance the police charged and pushed them back.
In the Sidi Abed neighborhood, police fired tear gas at demonstrators who were chanting “Long live the Rif” and “Long Live Zefzafi” — in reference to jailed Al-Hirak leader Nasser Zefzafi.