Two days ago, thousands of young people held simultaneous street protests throughout Morocco to demand constitutional reforms and a transition to a parliamentary monarchy. Reports from the ground are now trickling in, giving us an idea about the turnout and its impact. In the Wall Street Journal, Marc Champion writes:
The protests attracted 37,000 people around the country Sunday and were generally peaceful, Interior Minister M. Taieb Cherqaoui said at a press conference. He said looters had damaged more than 100 buildings, including a bank in the port town of Al Hoceima, where five people died in a fire. He also said 128 people were wounded, mostly police. It wasn’t possible to verify those figures independently Monday.
And, in the Guardian, Giles Tremlett reports:
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 cities. Protest organisers condemned the rioting and looting that followed the demonstrations, blaming it on thugs and football hooligans returning from matches.
On Monday, a group of people gathered again in Rabat in what appears to be a follow-up protest, but they were swiftly and brutally dispersed by the police. Khadija Ryadi, director of the Moroccan Association of Human Rights, suffered some injuries and was taken to hospital. Also on Monday, King Mohammed gave a speech—which had been scheduled some time ago—but he did not mention the February 20 movement by name or indicate if he would listen to their demands. Instead, he stressed that he would not give in to “demagoguery and improvisation.”