Initial protests pass off peacefully but bank blaze kills five with scores
injured and detained as trouble flares in deprived suburbs
guardian.co.uk, Monday 21 February 2011
Moroccans demonstrate in Casablanca 20/02/2011 Demonstrators in Casablanca
on Sunday. More than 37,000 demonstrated across Morocco, according to
interior ministry figures. Photograph: Chafik/AFP/Getty Images
Sporadic outbursts of violence have continued in Morocco after Sunday's
peaceful pro-democracy protests gave way to rioting, with five people
killed in a fire at a bank in the northern port of Al Hoceima.
Interior ministry figures showed that the protests were far more extensive
than first thought, with nearly 40,000 people turning out in 57 towns and
Protest organisers condemned the rioting and looting that followed the
demonstrations, blaming it on thugs and football hooligans returning from
While the mostly middle-class pro-democracy protesters had pledged to
remain peaceful, there were warnings before the marches that the real
tinderbox in Morocco lay in the poverty-stricken outer suburbs of the
cities, where many of Sunday's rioters are thought to live.
Outbreaks of violence continued on Monday in Fes, with at least three
people injured, according to Morocco's Atlantic Radio.
Clashes were also recorded in the northern towns of Ait Bouayach and
Imzourne, Spain's El País newspaper reported.
Interior minister Taeib Cherqaoui said 128 people had been injured on
Sunday, mostly police officers. A further 120 people were detained. He
said "troublemakers" had vandalised dozens of public buildings, shops and
Tangier, Larache, Marrakech, Sefrou, Tetouan and Guelmim suffered the
worst violence, with a total of 33 public buildings being attacked or set
Cherqaoui said the demonstrations themselves had been peaceful, calling
them an example of "the healthy practise of the freedom of expression".
Moroccan authorities claim the country will prove resistant to the wave of
revolution sweeping north Africa and the Middle East because of the
greater freedoms enjoyed by Moroccans.
It was unclear whether or not the protest movement would call for further
action over the weekend.
Morocco - Five people killed and 128 injured in Sunday demonstration
Feb 21, 2011 - Rabat - Five people were killed and 128 injured during pro-
democracy demonstrations in Morocco on Sunday as the protest wave sweeping
the Arab world spread to the North African kingdom, according to figures
given by the government on Monday.
The bodies of the five victims were found inside a bank that had been set
on fire by rioters in the northern city of Al Hoceima.
Some 37,000 people attended marches, rallies and sit-in demonstrations in
53 prefectures and provinces, Interior Minister Taieb Cherkaoui said.
Violent incidents occurred in seven cities, including the port city of
Tangier, the tourist destination Marrakesh and Al Hoceima, according to
Media reports said demonstrators attacked party offices, police stations
and shops, and set cars on fire. Police dispersed the rioters with tear
gas and rubber bullets.
The unrest damaged 33 public buildings, 24 bank offices, 50 shops and
private buildings, and 66 vehicles, according to figures given by the
Cherkaoui said the Al Hoceima bank where the five charred bodies were
found had been closed at the time. The victims were looters who had
entered the bank after the demonstration was over. Others then set the
bank on fire, according to the minister.
Cherkaoui said a total of 128 people were injured in the unrest, including
115 members of the security forces, and that 120 people had been detained.
The demonstrations were staged with the support of a Facebook protest
movement, Islamic fundamentalists, human rights and women's groups, as
well as some leftist parties and trade unionists.