COP22 Host Country: Mass protests and Arab Spring style unrest in Morocco

Arrival of a caravan outside a city in Morocco.

Arrival of a caravan outside a city in Morocco. Edwin Lord Weeks [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

In less than a week, the COP22 international climate conference will convene in a country which has over the last few days witnessed mass protests, sparked by the brutal crush death of a fish merchant in the back of a government garbage truck. The protests and demands for justice have been compared to the crisis which toppled the government of Tunisia in 2011.

Morocco’s Al-Hoceima protests reflect ‘a heavy legacy’

Moroccans are demanding a thorough investigation over the death of fish vendor Mouhcine Fikri.

Marrakesh – Moroccans protesting over the gruesome death of a fish seller have vowed to continue demonstrating until the full truth surrounding his death is known.

Mouhcine Fikri, 31, was crushed to death in a rubbish truck on Friday, as he reportedly tried to protest against a municipal worker seizing and destroying his wares.

Last Friday evening, police had confiscated all of Fikri’s merchandise – about $11,000 worth of swordfish, according to media reports – a species protected in Morocco. Moments later, Fikri and his friends tried to retrieve as much of the fish as they could.

In a video recorded by a mobile phone that went viral over the weekend, his friends are seen jumping out of the lorry. Fikri, who was slightly heavier and less agile, remained stuck inside and was crushed by the grinding mechanism of the truck.

A photo of his lifeless body inspired outrage nationwide.

In 2011, when protests swept the Arab world, Moroccans also took to the streets. Demonstrations, led by the February 20 movement, demanded more social justice and more freedoms but never called for a regime change.

King Mohammed VI quickly responded by pushing for a new constitution that was passed after a referendum. A few years on, the country is still facing most of the problems that sparked the demands for change.

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So far King Mohammed VI appears to have handled the situation with restraint, but the situation in Morocco still seems very much at crisis point. With large numbers of reporters, functionaries, and politicians converging on Marrakesh, ordinary Moroccans, fast running out of patience with the slow pace of reform, have an unprecedented opportunity to attract global attention to their plight.

Moroccan authorities have a fine line to walk, between ensuring the security of VIP conference delegates, ensuring the protests stay peaceful, and avoiding more authoritarian outrages which might tip the ongoing unrest into a full scale violent revolution.

The clumsy and callous brutality displayed by at least some government employees does not inspire confidence that Moroccan authorities will avoid further bloodshed and unrest.

32 thoughts on “COP22 Host Country: Mass protests and Arab Spring style unrest in Morocco

      • Well, If the street vendors reclaim their wares from the back end of Garbage Trucks in an effort to sell them, it doesn’t bode well for the sanitary condition of their food supplies. I definitely know a region I will not be traveling to any time soon.. Morocco, Come for the fish, stay for the ptomaine

    • Those swordfish were so hot in the boiling oceans they were jumping onto land so of course they weer being sold.

  1. No doubt Morocco’s Ouarzazate concentrating solar power (CSP) project, will receive plenty of publicity.
    Just a reminder it depends upon burning fossil fuel (oil) to operate:
    – to maintain the eutectic salts at high temperature so that they remain liquid (solidification at 110°C), and
    – to maintain the temperature of the heat-conveying synthetic oil above its minimal operational temperature (8°C for synthetic oil) and feed the pumps at night so that oil keeps circulating in the circuits.

    • But it also saves enormous amounts of fossil fuel from being burned…
      Which is important for Morocco as it has little oil, gas and I believe no coal resource and consequently, Morocco is the largest energy importer in northern Africa.
      This plant is also built using local skills and labour.
      This is a brilliant and appropriate technology for this country…

  2. Of course it’s co2, what else could it be ?
    Co2 warmed up the atmosphere, guy was feeling hot and decided to take a break. The hot weather made the garbage driver irritable and backed over the guy. What further proof do we need ? One more climate change fatality.

  3. Great, so while the elite in their comfy conference digs fiddle with lofty-sounding mythical “save-the-planet” tripe, all around them can burn the fires of outrage due to real government sadism. It’s perfect. These save-the-planet buffoons should be ashamed.

  4. ‘Hurry, hurry, the camels are coming’
    ‘I thought you said there were lots of camels, so why hurry?’
    ‘Well you want to get a pretty one don’t you?’

  5. Sorry, but what is this column about?
    The whole thing looks like a typical “color” revolution manufactured in the good ol’ US of A.
    Wanna bet Mohammed VI did not submit to some diktat?
    BTW Tunisia is all so quiet these days, no terrorist attacks… since there is a US army drone base installed.
    This incident blown out of proportion smells rotting fish.

  6. Maybe we can throw a bunch of post-normal climate science into the garbage truck, too and see who’s brave enough to go in after it. Yes, I know, I know, we wouldn’t want any climate fanatics to be treated like skeptics in the 10:10 video. We’re all just having a friendly little debate about the future of humanity and who gets to control it.

  7. Shame on commenters above for peddling a lot of camel jokes at the expense of this nation….
    shall I get a lot of dumb yankee jokes and post them here? No?
    Is this about climate or running down ayrabs ?

  8. The bigger picture here is impoverished people don’t care one wit about “endangered species”. Environmentalists are well aware when they think about it that they require wholesale elimination of the most poverty stricken of the human race in order to achieve the “ecologically balanced” carbon free new world order.

  9. Oh, so the COP-22 is being held in Morocco?! Great – now can we PLEASE see to it that ALL of the AGW True Believers attend, and then make sure Hillary is in charge of security?? PLEASE?! Oh – and of course a free T-Shirt (mandatory to wear to the conference) with the garbage truck company’s logo on it should be issued to all the guests upon arrival. LMAO.

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