Mouhcine Fikri, a fish seller in the city of Al-Houceima, was recently killed in a tragic accident after his produce was seized. His death has sparked large-scale protests, the size of which are nearly unprecedented in Morocco.
This all sounds awfully strange with no context. But the protests come during a time of general frustration towards the Moroccan government. Economic troubles have hurt Morocco recently, and only five years ago, during the Arab spring, huge protests erupted, demanding economic and governmental reform. The king of Morocco relented, and proposed constitutional reforms that cut down on his power, but for many, it wasn’t enough.
So how and why did Mouhcine Fikri die? After swordfish he was selling was confiscated because it was illegal to sell during the months of October and November, he and some others tried to recover it from the back of a garbage truck, where it was going to be crushed and destroyed. After Fikri jumped into the back of the truck, he was not able to get out in time, and ended up being crushed by the garbage compactor. The fish he was selling was worth upwards of $11,000, which is likely why he risked his life attempting to get it back.
The officials involved and the operator of the garbage truck have been accused of purposefully murdering Fikri, and that seems to be what most people are upset about. If Fikri had been arrested instead of being crushed, he would still be alive.
Thus far, eleven people have been arrested and charged with involuntary manslaughter, but the demonstrations appear to be continuing.