Morocco: 2 shot in Marrakech attack, assailants on the run

Crowds gather at the scene of a shooting which left one Moroccan dead in Marrakech , Morocco on 2 November 2017

Two people were shot last night in a drive-by shooting at a café in the Moroccan city of Marrakech.

Two people on board a TMAX scooter opened fire on the terrace of the café La Crème in the Hivernage district, according to local media reports.

The alleged killers opened fire at approximately 19:45 outside the cafe located which is situated in front of the Marrakech Court of Appeal. Security services were dispatched to the scene and the perimeter was cordoned off.

Twenty-six-year-old medical student Hamza died after being shot in the head, while two others were injured including a young woman who was accompanying the victim. The victims were brought to the University Hospital of Marrakech, the Moroccan Press Agency reported.

Read: Morocco arrests 4 planning city attack

The motive of the shooting is still unknown but it is believed the victim was targeted because his father was a court official and the attack was likely an effort to settle an issue.

In an “embarrassing” blunder by the head of government, Saad Eddine El Othmani, the shooters were said to have been arrested but the statement was later retracted.

“In direct contact with the leaders, it appears that the search for the perpetrators of the attack is still ongoing and those who were apprehended before have nothing to do with this case,” El Othmani clarified on Twitter a few minutes after announcing that the police had apprehended the criminals.

في اتصال مباشر مع المسؤولين تبين ان البحث لا يزال جاريا عن منفذي الهجوم ومن حقق معهم لحد الساعة لا صلة لهم به،اللهم احفظ بلادنا ءامنا مطمئنا

Many users took to social media to criticise the blunder and the lack of information: “Free advice to the Government leader: offer condolences to the family of the victim and take care of the wounded,” one user wrote.

Conseil gratuit au chef gouvernement : présenter condoléances à la famille de la victime et veiller sur les blessés https://twitter.com/mohameddouyeb/status/926232206741266432 

(Source / 03.11.2017)

Moroccan police break up Daesh cell ‘planning attacks’

Protesters from Rif movement clash with security forces during a demonstration against government in Imzouren town near Al Hoceima city of Morocco on June 2, 2017 [Jalal Morchidi / Anadolu Agency]

Moroccan security forces seen in Imzouren town near Al Hoceima, Morocco on June 2, 2017

Moroccan authorities said on Saturday they had dismantled a cell linked to Daesh that was active in eight towns and cities and was planning terrorist operations.

Eleven people were arrested.

Security forces detained the alleged mastermind of the cell in a safe house in Fez, where they found guns and a large quantity of bullets, materials for making suicide belts, nails and electric wires, according to a statement from the interior ministry.

Police also found chemical products that could be used for making explosives, and a “suspicious car”, the statement said. It said one of the suspects was an explosives expert.

Opinion: The end of the Arab nation state

Those arrested were “planning to carry out dangerous terrorist operations targeting sensitive sites, at the instigation of Daesh coordinators”, it said.

Moroccan authorities say they have dismantled dozens of militant cells since 2002, including about 50 with alleged links to Daesh.

(Source / 15.10.2017)

1 in 6 households in Morocco run by women

Women can be seen carrying heavy goods on their backs across the Spanish-Moroccan border

Nearly one in six households in Morocco is headed by a woman, said the High Commission for Planning (HCP) in celebration of National Women’s Day yesterday.

According to data from the Census of Population and Habitat in 2014, around 1.2 million households are currently run by women with the rate being higher in urban areas than in rural areas.

Compared with the data from the previous census conducted in 2004, the rate of female-headed households remained “almost stable”. In 1960 the proportion of female heads of household was at 11.2 per cent with the rate steadily increasingly in the 1980s and 1990s (15.3 per cent in 1982 and 15.4 per cent in 1994) and rising again in the 2000s.

More than half of the women who head their households were widowed whilst 14 per cent were divorced and 20 per cent were married.

Half of the female heads of households were over 54-years-old, compared to one third of their male counterparts, and 65 per cent of the women were mainly illiterate and poorly integrated into the labour market with a participation rate of 30 per cent.

The highest proportion of female-headed households higher than the national average was found in the Guelmim-Oued Noun region of Morocco accounting for 18.7 per cent of the 16,838 households.

Read: Morocco’s ‘cargo women’ carry goods worth millions of euros on their backs

According to the HCP, one in five female household heads live alone – compared with 4.6 per cent of male heads of household – generally have fewer dependents and live in smaller dwellings which are poorly equipped.

90.3 per cent of female-headed households have a mobile phone and 21.9 per cent have a computer compared with 95.1 per cent and 26.1 per cent of households with a male head.

Despite Morocco adopting a family code that was hailed by women’s rights groups a decade ago and three years ago passing a new constitution guaranteeing gender equality, changes have been slow.

Women make up 50 per cent of the population, 47 per cent of education enrolment and only 26 per cent of the labour force.

(Source / 11.10.2017)

Morocco to rehabilitate ‘repentant’ Islamists

Image of Moroccan police

Morocco is introducing a plan to reintegrate radicalised detainees who have been convicted on terror charges back into society through the “consecrating citizenship” programme.

“DGAPR [General Delegation for Prison Administration and Reintegration] is deeply aware of the importance of ensuring the conditions for the reintegration of the category of prisoners in cases of terrorism and extremism in penitentiary institutions and which requires an innovative scientific approach,” it said in a statement.

The approach is divided into three principles of reconciliation through changing oneself, working with religious texts and finally with society.

The DGAPR has allied itself with the National Council for Human Rights (CNDH) and the country’s Muslim scholars, Ulema, whose experience and expertise will be used to construct the reintegration programme.

A meeting has since been organised between the three bodies as the local Ras El Ma prison in the city of Fez for the reconciliation programme which will focus on “the spiritual rehabilitation of prisoners” and mainly include workshops led by prisoners who have been former “Salafi Jihadists”.

Read: The weakening of Morocco’s state institutions worsens the political logjam

These workshops serve as an opportunity for meetings between “repentant” Islamists and those detained on the same charges where they discuss various topics including “the relationship between extremist thinking and organised crime”. The aim is to use repentant Islamists as a model for others who have gone the same way to then renounce their ways and move on with their lives removed from any radicalism.

According to the DGAPR’s press release, the first trial of this programme that was implemented earlier this year has been “successful” with detainees who volunteered from the Al Arjat 1 prison.

In order to test the effectiveness of its work with these prisoners, the DGAPR tests the beneficiaries of the programme through practical exercises where they demonstrate the extent in which they have mastered “the dismantling of extremist discourse”.

Reconciliation offered to Islamists isn’t new to North Africa. In the aftermath of the brutal ten year civil war in Algeria, Islamists who had not taken part in the killings were offered a general amnesty in return for their arms through a reconciliation policy introduced by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika which has been successful in minimising the effect of radicalisation in the country.

(Source / 22.09.2017)

1,100 pardoned by Morocco King

Rif protest in Rabat, Morocco on 12 June, 2017 [Twitter]

Rif protest in Rabat, Morocco on 12 June, 2017

Morocco’s King Mohammad VI has pardoned dozens of people who were arrested in recent protests in the Rif region and blamed the failure of local officials for public anger.

Speaking in his first public address since the start of protests in October over injustice, corruption and underdevelopment in the region, the King said:

If the king of Morocco is not convinced by the way political activity is conducted and if he does not trust a number of politicians, what are the citizens left with?

“To all those concerned I say: ‘Enough is enough!’ Fear God in what you are perpetrating against your homeland. Either carry out your duties fully or withdraw from public life.”

Before his speech, the Justice Ministry announced 1,178 prisoners were being pardoned to mark the occasion of the 18th anniversary of the King’s ascension to the throne. Those pardoned included 58 members of the protest group, the “popular movement”.

Read: 80 injured as police advance on Rif protests

Silya Ziani was the only leader of the movement who was pardoned with others, including Nasser Zefzafi, still detained in Casablanca.

“I am happy with my freedom, but I am waiting to hear the news of the freedom of all my comrades from the Hirak,” Ziani told local reporters on Saturday.

Protests erupted in October in the Rif region and around Al-Hoceima following the death of fishmonger Mouhcine Fikri who was crushed in a garbage truck after his produce was confiscated by authorities.

Read: Morocco jails 10 Rif activists

The government’s spokesperson did not clarify what actions may be taken but one government official presented the speech as a “direct conversation with the people” over the slow progress in development projects.

#Rif

“The King has put his foot down, whoever doesn’t do their work should leave their place for those who want to work,” the government official told Reuters.

Around 176 protesters are currently being detained following the ongoing demonstrations. “We can’t speak about significant developments because the main demands of Hirak remain unaddressed, including the release and dismissal of charges for all the members of Hirak,” Secretary-General of the Moroccan Human Rights Association, Taib Madmad said, explaining that the royal pardon is not enough to quell the unrest.

Al-Hoceima was only mentioned once in the King’s speech and only referenced to praise the actions of security forces.

(Source / 31.07.2017)

Thousands in Morocco join march in solidarity with Hirak Rif

Protesters stage a demonstration in Rabat, Morocco on 16 July 2017 [Jalal Morchidi/Anadolu Agency]

Protesters stage a demonstration in solidarity with Hirak Rif in Rabat, Morocco on 16 July 2017

Thousands of Moroccans yesterday protested in Rabat to demand “dignity and social justice” and to express their solidarity with the Hirak Rif movement in the north of the country which has been going on for more than eight months.

The Popular Front for Dignity and Social Justice called for the march which saw participants chanting slogans demanding the release of detainees.

Demonstrators also called for a “fair distribution of wealth” and “a fair and equitable transitional movement of teachers from one city to another in the education and training sector.”

Since last October, Al Hoceima and a number of towns and villages in the Rif region have witnessed constant protests demanding greater “development and fighting marginalisation as well as corruption”.

Read: Morocco jails 10 Rif activists

The protests began following the killing of fisherman Mohsen Fikri, who was crushed to death in a garbage truck while trying to retrieve goods the police had confiscated from him.

#Rif

The number of activists detained as a result of the Hirak Rif has risen to 176, according to government spokesman Mustapha Khalfi ten days ago.

(Source / 17.07.2017)

Moroccan king orders security forces to withdraw from Al Hoceima

AL HOCEIMA, MOROCCO – JUNE 2 : Protesters from Rif movement clash with security forces during a demonstration against government in Imzouren town near Al Hoceima city of Morocco on June 2, 2017

Moroccan King Mohammed VI has instructed security forces to withdraw from the northern cities of Al Hoceima and Imzouren after violent clashes erupted between police and protesters in the region.

“Following royal directives, the law enforcement officers have withdrawn,” Al Hoceima’s new governor, Farid Chourak, said at a press conference on Monday.

Read: Protests resume in Morocco after heavy handed response by government

He added that if the protesters reacted positively to this initiative, the authorities “will offer other initiatives”.

“Confidence and security are linked … we reach a normal atmosphere, where everyone can exercise his public freedoms and fulfill his demands in a civilised and institutional way,” he added.

#Rif

“In a normal environment, the state will also be able to exercise its powers to establish security,” he said.

(Source / 05.07.2017)

Protests resume in Morocco after heavy handed response by government

Protesters, supporting Rif Movement leader Nasser Zefzafi stage a demonstration demanding from government to take action for development of the region, in Imzouren own of Hoceima, Morocco on June 11, 2017. Nasser Zefzafi, was arrested May 29, 2017 after three days on the run. Outrage erupted last year over the gruesome death of a fishmonger in Rif, with calls for justice moving into a grassroots movement demanding jobs and hospitals

Popular protests resumed Thursday night in the northern city of Al-Hoceima – and in several other Moroccan cities – following Taraweeh (nighttime Ramadan prayers) as two prominent human rights groups criticized the government’s heavy-handed response to the demonstrations.

“Police arrested and severely beat the de facto leader of ongoing social protests in Morocco’s Rif region… based on an account the protest leader gave his lawyer,” Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International both said in a joint statement.

“Authorities are investigating Nasser Zefzafi, the protest leader, on grave charges, including one that carries the death penalty and some that appear political in nature,” the statement read.

“Moroccan authorities should investigate the credible allegations of police violence against Zefzafi and refrain from filing any charges that stem from peaceful speech or protest,” the statement quoted Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW’s Middle East and North Africa director, as saying.

She added: “At this stage, the case looks like it’s more about throwing the book at a protest leader than punishing criminal behavior.”

The same statement quoted Heba Morayef, Amnesty International’s North Africa research director, as saying that, along with Zefzafi, “many other Rif protesters and activists have reported police brutality following arrest”.

For the last nine months, Al-Hoceima — located in Morocco’s northern Al-Rif region — has been roiled by protests by local youth demanding job opportunities and an end of perceived government corruption.

Demonstrations were initially sparked last October when a fisherman was crushed to death by a garbage truck in Al-Hoceima while protesting attempts by the local authorities to confiscate his fish.

Last week, Moroccan Justice Minister Mohamed Aujjar said that more than 100 people had been arrested to date for taking part in the ongoing protests.

(Source / 25.06.2017)

Morocco: Parliamentarians Call for Reducing Social Disparities

Moroccan

Moroccan Prime Minister Saadeddine el-Othmani delivers his first speech presenting the government’s program at the Moroccan Parliament in Rabat, Morocco April 19, 2017

Rabat – A group of Moroccan deputies from both majority and opposition blocs have called on the government on Tuesday to speed up the implementation of measures aimed at reducing social disparities in the different Moroccan regions, by guaranteeing equal access to developmental programs.

Several areas in Morocco are suffering from poor basic services, such as education and health, as well as deterioration of the infrastructure and high unemployment rate.

During Wednesday’s oral questions and answer session at the House of Representatives, Moroccan Prime Minister Saadeddine Al-Othmani stressed the presence of “lucky areas and other unlucky regions”, due to the differences in the pace of development.

He noted that development indicators still divide Moroccan regions into areas with concrete fairly acceptable development pace and other ones with no manifest development.

“In some areas, development is intangible and unacceptable due to decades of mismanagement,” he stated.

Asked whether the new reform initiative was linked to protests in some areas, the Moroccan prime minister said it was his government’s duty to reach out to citizens in underprivileged areas, whether they are protesting or not.

“We have to give poor and remote regions their rights in terms of development through building up roads, health services and schools,” he stated.

In this context, Othmani said that his cabinet was seeking to reduce regional inequalities by allocating MAD 5 billion to rehabilitate poor and remote areas.

Earlier this month, the Moroccan premier said his cabinet was deploying all efforts to curb unemployment.

“The government was appointed only 42 days ago. It is still early to speak of achievements,” he stated.

“I will keep fighting unemployment, and I will perform the task assigned to me since my appointment by the King and the vote of Parliament on the government program,” he added.

(Source / 21.06.2017)

Morocco promises no water shortages in Al Hoceima

Hundreds of people attend a demonstration in support of ongoing anti-government protests taking place in the northern Rif region on June 2, 2017 in Al-Hoceima, Morocco

The Moroccan government has promised that there will be no water crisis or shortages in the turbulent Al Hoceima until 2035.

The promise was made yesterday during a meeting held by a delegation led by the Minister of the  Interior, Abdelouafi Laftit, the Secretary of State for Water, Abdelkader Amara, minister of equipment, and the director general of the National Office of Electricity and Drinking Water (ONEE).

The delegation devoted the agenda of its meeting to the question of water as the province experiences a shortage which worsens during the summer months.

The delegation took stock of the state of progress of the water infrastructure strengthening projects which received nearly $1 million in funding.

Read: Thousands march in Rabat to demand release of protest leaders

President of the region, Ilyas El Omari, told HuffPost Morocco that he took advantage of the meeting to draw attention to the problem of access to drinking water in the entire region. “I have intervened to remind you that not only Al Hoceima, but also other provinces in the region, do not yet have access to drinking water,” he said.

In Chaouen, the situation is more alarming than in Al Hoceima, where 50 per cent of the city’s population does not have access to drinking water, [which is] about 200,000 people.

According to El Omari, the inhabitants of the region have suffered greatly from the shortage of water accentuated by the drought in Ouazzane and Chaouen. “Several residents of the region complained about this situation last year,” he recalled.

For El Omari, the origin of this situation also lies in the lack of financial developments in the region. “The transfer of the powers to the regions has not yet been made … we receive from the government a percentage of the taxes of a value of 400 to 450 million dirhams [around $40 million per year],” he said, stressing that at the next session of the regional council in July it is expected that the region will get better and more involved in the supply of water and electricity by giving financial support to the municipalities.

Secretary of State, Charafat Afailal, said in a statement to the press that “this dam will strengthen the water infrastructure and meet the province’s drinking water needs.”

(Source / 14.06.2017)