The death of Morocco’s fishmonger proves people have not forgotten the power of collective action

This is a short post, a more analytical one will appear once my thesis is handed in! Not to mention it will include a more detailed historical account.

It’s the trigger that often starts revolutions, the oppressed figure of the common man.

On a Friday night in a northern port city called Al Hoceima, Mouhcine Fikri, 31, Moroccan authorities tossed about $11,000 worth of swordfish causing Fikri and his fishmonger friends to dive into a garbage truck.

Sales of the protected species are banned.

Fikri was then crushed to death after the garbage compactor began operating -allegedly instigated by the police, his friends escaped. Photos of Fikri’s lifeless body in the garbage truck quickly circulated on social media, culminating in protests after his funeral on Sunday, October 30.

I’ve been following the going-ons in Morocco for some time. The uproar over the brutal killing of a fishmonger, instigated by police, is just the latest in a series of protests (often against corruption and authority) that have occurred, particularly this year.

The Tunisian revolution was set off by a street vendor who set himself on fire after authorities confiscated his wares. More on the comparison here.

Since 2011, more than a dozen Moroccans set themselves on fire out of desperation.

Whether the fishmonger’s fish were illegal or not, killing him is only be the right ‘déclancheur’ or trigger for mass protests, which could end up in a revolution, considering since 2011, injustice and corruption have prevailed.

Protests against police brutality in general and the practice of “hogra” (humiliation) in particular have become all too common in Morocco.

Earlier this year, thousands of student trainees took to the streets to protest against government cuts, which they say have made it harder for them to find jobs in education.

In April 2016, a woman street vendor set herself on fire when police confiscated her bread and cake. That same month, a street vendor also immolated himself after his motorcycle was confiscated.

In 2015, street vendors in Casablanca unified to protest against the constant harassment by police. This union was caused by the arrest of street vendors in Morocco famous white city. Street vendors are systematically harassed, beaten, and arrested.

In 2013, three cases of self-immolation (where one offers oneself for sacrifice) were reported by women who say the justice system failed them. One young woman who was forced to marry her rapist back in 2011, killed herself in March 2012. In August 2016, a girl committed suicide after her eight rapists were released by police and threatened to post pictures of her being raped online.

Privatisation and its consequences if the country is not ready

Since Morocco celebrated a new king HE Mohammed VI after the death of his father HE Hassan II who led militarised campaigns to quash dissent, soft diplomacy replaced ‘brutalised’ force- at least on the surface.

From 2011, Morocco has undergone a high-speed privatisation process. And though this has led to many improvements, particularly in investment and infrastructure, that doesn’t mean people who have NO POWER have not suffered.

In 2014, local residents in a Rabat district were driven from their homes and forced to live in huts after a Saudi company bought the land for development. Though the number is low, under 100, it didn’t go unnoticed.

For a shockingly low €30 million per year the EU, in a deal with Morocco, bought the rights to fish near the Moroccan coast: where up to 120 ships from 11 countries like Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, Germany, Lithuania, Latvia, Netherlands, Ireland, Poland, and the UK (at least for now i.e BREXIT) fish in Moroccan waters that was in 2014.

What does that mean?

It means big fishing companies leave very little for the local fishers. In some cases, local fishers aren’t even allowed to cast their nets, leaving people like Mohsin Fikri jobless, desperate and illegally trading illegal fish.


N.B – This is a rambles post, I will write a proper one later.

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