Morocco Hit By Clashes, Mass Arrests as Authorities Strain to Curb Rif Unrest

Morocco Hit By Clashes, Mass Arrests as Authorities Strain to Curb Rif Unrest
Anti-government protesters during a rally organized by the pro-democracy February 20 movement, Casablanca, Morocco, Sept. 25, 2011 (AP photo by Abdeljalil Bounhar).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Associate Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent.

Morocco’s northern Rif region was the scene of violent clashes and mass arrests in an escalation of tensions that can be traced back to the gruesome death of a fish vendor during an altercation with police last October.

On Friday, Amnesty International accused authorities of carrying out “a chilling wave of arrests” of at least 71 people in recent days, including activists and bloggers. Among those arrested was Nasser Zefzafi, a 39-year-old who has emerged as a leading activist during months of protests denouncing corruption, unemployment and a lack of development. As Al Jazeera explains, the Rif region, whose inhabitants are mainly Berber, “has long been underdeveloped and underrepresented in the government in Rabat,” the capital.

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