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Morocco : Clashes and arrests amid protest against the deterioration of living conditions in Fnideq

The inhabitants of Fnideq, affected by the closure of the border with Ceuta, hit the streets on Friday to protest the deteriorating living conditions. The protests led to several arrests as demonstrators and police clashed.

The inhabitants of Fnideq protesting against the city's economic situation on Friday, February 5. / DR
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On Friday evening, the inhabitants of Fnideq, a town in northern Morocco, hit the streets in an «unauthorized» sit-in to protest the closure of borders with Ceuta and the suspension of informal trade with the enclave. Since the start of the pandemic, hundreds of families in northern Morocco were left unemployed after their main source of income was affected by border closures.  

While attempting to disperse the protest, police and protesters clashed. «During this intervention, some demonstrators threw stones at the security forces, wounding six of them who had to be evacuated to the hospital to receive necessary care», local authorities said in a press release. «Ten civilians were also transferred to the hospital after several of them fainted due to a stampede», the same source added.

For its part, Islamist movement Al Adl wal Ihsane claims that one of its members, Yassine Razine, was arrested. The Socialist Union of Popular Forces party also reports the arrest of Khalil Jebari, a member of its provincial secretariat. The two organizations called for the immediate release of the two arrestees.

Fed up with the one-year-long situation

The strong participation in the sit-in on Friday eventually alerted the authorities. Later on Friday, the wali of the Tanger-Tétouan-Al Hoceïma region, Mohamed Mhidia, chaired «a meeting for the official launch of a program aimed at boosting development, employability and promoting entrepreneurship for the benefit of people in vulnerable situations, especially women and young people», says the Agency for promotion and development of the North in a press release.

The same source recalls that «the first phase of the program was crowned by the implementation of the first tranche of the economic activity zone in Fnideq, with a budget of around 200 million dirhams».

The anger of the inhabitants of Fnideq, heavily hit by the closure of the borders with Ceuta, is not new. They have already alerted the authorities and the government regarding the precariousness of their living conditions long before the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Indeed, local authorities had banned the holding of a sit-in scheduled for December 1, 2019  to protest against «the poor economic conditions in the city». The same ban also struck the protest which was planned, on September 22, 2020 in front of the headquarters of the prefecture of M'Diq-Fnideq on grounds of «the preservation of order and general security and public health».

What happened last night in Fnideq is likely to happen again in Nador. There too, thousands of families are deprived of financial resources because of the closure of the border with Melilla. Calls to demonstrate were also silenced by local authorities.

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