5 years since the Rif Movement uprising

5 years ago, on 28 October 2016, a fish seller named Mouhcine Fikri was crushed to death in a rubbish bin in the city of Alhoceima in Morocco. This single incident has sparked a movement in the northern region of Morocco known as Hirak Rif movement. The protests were the largest Morocco has known since the Arab spring in 2011.

The protests later spread to many villages and cities across Northern Morocco and Europe. Later on the movement, led by Nasser Zefzafi, crafted a list of demands:

  • Respecting, preserving and protecting the distinct Amazigh identity and language of the Rif and the Riffians.
  • Release of political prisoners.
  • Serious inquiry and trial of those responsible for the death of Mouhcine Fikri.
  • Demilitarisation of the Rif region.
  • Construction of a regional cancer hospital, university, library, theatre, roads and fish processing facilities.
  • A say in how promised local investment money is spent.

These demands were largly ignored by the authorities. As the protests intensified and spread, the government moved to arrest the leaders of the Hirak Rif including Nasser Zefzafi. Later, him and other leaders were sentenced to 20 years in prison.