Fish Seller’s Death Prompts Protests In Morocco

Protesters turned to social media to call for more demonstrations on Sunday

Mourners carry the coffin of fishmonger Mouhcine Fikri who was crushed to death inside a rubbish truck — REUTERS
Oct 30, 2016 at 11:29 AM ET

Protesters have reportedly taken to streets in Morocco since Friday—and are continuing to call for demonstrations—in response to the death of Mohsen Fikri, a fish seller in the northern city of al-Hoceima.

Moroccan activists claim that Fikri, 31, jumped into the back of a garbage truck on Friday after local authorities disposed of his wares, according to BBC Arabic. Witnesses allege security officials told the truck driver to apply pressure to the contents of the truck, killing Fikri.

Authorities, however, deny the claims, and have promised to open an investigation into his death, BBC Arabic reported. According to The New Arab, a media outlet based in London, sources also suggested that Fikri argued with authorities, who asked for a bribe so he could sell his goods.

After images of his corpse surfaced and spread on social media, residents of al-Hoceima organized protests, according to BBC Arabic. One demonstration in al-Hoceima was broadcast on Facebook Live, prompting thousands of viewers online to simultaneously express sympathy for Fikri and the protesters.

Others spoke out on social media using two protest hashtags, which were shared nearly 10,000 times from Friday to Sunday. The hashtags are , meaning “we are all Mohsen Fikri,” and , meaning “crush his mother,” which is what officers reportedly said upon seeing Fikri’s body.

Social media users also shared cartoons protesting authorities’ alleged actions and illustrating what they claimed was a brutal death:

More protests are planned for Sunday in cities across Morocco, including Marrakech, Rabat, and Tangier. They’re publicized on Facebook, including in groups originally created during Morocco’s 2011 Arab Spring protests. It’s unclear, however, if the calls for protests will inspire significant turnout. Only several dozen people, for example, have said they’re going to an event expected to take place in Marrakech.

But for some protesters, Fikri’s death may hearken back to the incident that prompted the Arab Spring back in 2010, when a Tunisian street vendor set himself on fire after his wares were confiscated by local authorities.