Undermining the internal security of the state

Morocco: At the helm, the leader of the Hirak movement denounces a “political trial”

Des partisans du mouvement social du Hirak demandent la libération du leader de la contestation, Nasser Zefzafi, devant la cour d’appel de Casablanca, au Maroc, le 31 octobre 2017.

Proponents of the Hirak social movement demand the release of the leader of the protest, Nasser Zefzafi, before the Casablanca Court of Appeal, Morocco, on October 31, 2017.Credits: FADEL SENNA / AFP

The leader of the protest movement that agitated in 2017 the Moroccan city of Al-Hoceima, Nasser Zefzafi, lambasted in its first public hearing, Monday, April 9, a “political trial par excellence”, and rejected any separatist intention.

Nasser Zefzafi, 39, was jailed in May 2017 after interrupting the preaching of an imam hostile to the Hirak social movement, which was shaking part of the north of the country. Pursued especially for “undermining the internal security of the state”, it is theoretically risk capital punishment.

He is one of the last of the 54 activists or sympathizers of the movement called to the bar for a trial river that opened in mid-September in front of the criminal chamber near the court of appeal of Casablanca.

Square jaw and hair flush, this former bouncer, and manager of a mobile phone shop that has locked the door immediately “paid tribute” to his defense committee for his “perseverance in showing the truth despite the pressures”.

“I also salute the free media and the families of the political detainees who have come from far away to comfort their loved ones” incarcerated in Casablanca, the Hirak leader has launched in front of an almost overwhelming room.

“The PV is falsified”

In a determined voice, the leader of the dispute has long looked back at the history of the Rif, a region of rebellious and geographically landlocked Morocco, essential to him to understand the Hirak.

“You talk about social and political demands. In front of the judicial police, you had said [you] coordinate with some separatist parties abroad, ” the judge questioned. “The judicial police cooked the answers. The PV is falsified, ” Zefzafi said, adding that Hirak’s supporters among the Ricans in the diaspora ” have never been sentenced for separatism. ”

According to him, “the accusations of separatism are aimed at preventing us from unmasking mafia lobbies […]. Thanks to the courage of Hirak, we have shown to the highest authority of the country that political conflicts were behind the delays ” noted in the development program of the region, for which ministers and senior officials had been dismissed by King Mohammed VI.

In his defense, the leader of the movement referred to the Moroccan Constitution, which “authorizes peaceful demonstrations”, but also resorted to speeches made in 2017 by the King and in which he had shown severe compared to the political class. ” [His] message is the same as that of Hirak […] and this trial runs counter to the king’s speeches, ” said Zefzafi, who was rarely interrupted by the president of the court.

Taste for the bidding

Very quickly money without too much hassle, he became the face of the protest against “the arbitrariness of the Makhzen [power] ” and the “marginalization” of the Rif. During the demonstrations that agitated Al-Hoceima or on the social networks, he denounced relentlessly the “dictatorship”, “the corruption” or the “repression” of the “police state”, while insisting on the character “peaceful “of his movement.

Charismatic character and very popular in his hometown of Al-Hoceima, where thousands of protesters rallied, he was also criticized for his taste forbidding, his sometimes very virulent and the way he had dismissed several supporters.

About 450 people were arrested during the events triggered by the tragic death of fish vendor Mouhcine Fikri in October 2016, according to several associations. The state has, in turn, pointed the “violence” that has made more than 900 wounded in the police, according to the official report published during the trial.

Dozens of prison sentences have already been delivered in Al-Hoceima, the epicenter of the movement. During his hearing on Monday, Nasser Zefzafi mentioned the number of “600 people arrested for demonstrating peacefully for basic rights. “