Protests spread in cities across Morocco on May 28 as thousands demonstrated solidarity with activists who had taken to the streets in the fishing port of al-Hoceima and were met with mass arrests. Rallies were reported from Casablanca, Tangier, Marrakesh and Rabat, where the protesters massed outside the parliament building. The wave of anger was sparked when authorities issued an arrest warrant for Nasser Zafzafi, a leader of the new al-Hirak al-Shaabi (Popular Movement) in al-Hoceima, on charges of "undermining state security." Zafzafi had allegedly interrupted Friday prayers at a mosque to call for further protests. At least 20 others were detained as residents took to the srteets of al-Hoceima in support of Zafzafi.
Al-Hoceima has been shaken by unrest since the October death of fish vendor Mohcen Fikri, who was crushed in a garbage truck after police confiscated and threw out his catch. Eleven now face charges in Fikri's death, but protests have continued in al-Hoceima against "hogra," a colloquial Derja Arabic term for deprivation of dignity by official abuse or corruption. Morocco is now witnessing its biggest protests since Arab Spring demonstrations in 2011-2.
Some news accounts show demonstrators waving the Berber flag, indicating that demands for greater cultural rights for the Imazighen (Berbers) are animating the protests along with grievances about more general issued of social justice. (BBC News, Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera, Morocco World News, Morocco World News, Africa Times)