Fishmonger’s death sparks mass protests in Morocco

The incident is being compared to the death of a Tunisian vendor in 2010, which sparked a revolution in the country that ultimately led to the Arab Spring uprisings across the rest of the region the next year.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Footage circulating online appears to show Fikri jumping into a garbage truck to retrieve fish which had been confiscated from him, before being crushed to death.

Several thousand Moroccans on Sunday attended the funeral of a fishmonger, Mouhcine Fikri, who was crushed to death as he tried to prevent a municipal worker seizing and destroying the fish he was selling.

The incident is being compared to the death of a Tunisian vendor in 2010, which sparked a revolution in the country that ultimately led to the Arab Spring uprisings across the rest of the region the next year.

According to Moroccan media, police confiscated and destroyed swordfish in Fikri's possession. Selling swordfish had been banned in the country during this fishing season.

Footage circulating online appears to show Fikri jumping into a garbage truck to retrieve the fish, before being crushed to death on Friday.

An image of his inert body, head, and arm – sticking out from under the lorry's crushing mechanism – went viral on social media, sparking calls for protests nationwide including in Morocco's capital Rabat.

Thousands of people followed the ambulance that carried Fikri's body through Al-Hoceima in the ethnically Berber Rif region on Sunday.


Protestors take part in a rally in Rabat after a fishmonger in the northern town of Al Hoceima was crushed to death inside a rubbish truck as he tried to retrieve fish confiscated by police. October 30, 2016. (Reuters)

The General Directorate for National Security released a statement denying local officers were involved in Fikri's death.

But a human rights activist told AFP that the authorities forced the fishmonger to destroy several boxes of swordfish.

"The goods were worth a lot of money," said Fassal Aoussar, from the local branch of the Moroccan Association of Human Rights.

"The salesman threw himself in after his fish and was crushed by the machine," he said.

"The whole of the Rif is in shock and boiling over."

King Mohammed VI has ordered a "thorough and exhaustive investigation" into Fikri's death and the "prosecution of whoever is found responsible," an Interior Ministry statement said.

The king, who was in Zanzibar on a tour of East Africa, sent Interior Minister Mohammed Hassad to "present his condolences" to Fikri's family, it said.

Source: 
TRTWorld and agencies