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Thousands Rally In Morocco For Release Of Protest Leader


Protestors crowd the street during a demonstration against corruption, repression and unemployment in the northern city of Al Hoceima on May 30, 2017.

Several thousand people took to the streets in Morocco after dark on May 30 to demand the release of the leader of months of protests in a neglected northern region.

The Rif region has been shaken by social unrest since the death in October of fishmonger Mouhcine Fikri, 31, who was crushed in a garbage truck in the port of Al-Hoceima as he was trying to retrieve swordfish confiscated by the police.

Nasser Zefzafi, who has emerged as the head of the grassroots Popular Movement, was arrested on May 29.

Demonstrators came out near the center of Al-Hoceima for a fifth straight night after the breaking of the daytime fast observed by Muslims during the holy month of Ramadan.

A similar demonstration took place in the neighboring town of Imzouren, with a strong police presence.

Smaller protests were held in the capital Rabat and the commercial capital Casablanca but were broken up by police, Moroccan media reported.

Police have arrested at least 40 people in connection with the disturbances in Al-Hoceima, according to officials.

Human rights groups gave higher figures.

The mainly ethnically Berber Rif region has long had a tense relationship with Morocco's central authorities.

Based on reporting by AFP and Al Jazeera
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