Thousands mourn Morocco fishmonger crushed in rubbish truck

Protesters take part in a rally on Oct 30, 2016 after a fishmonger in the northern town of Al Hoceima was crushed to death inside a rubbish truck as he tried to retrieve fish confiscated by police.
Protesters take part in a rally on Oct 30, 2016 after a fishmonger in the northern town of Al Hoceima was crushed to death inside a rubbish truck as he tried to retrieve fish confiscated by police. PHOTO: REUTERS

RABAT (AFP) – Thousands of Moroccans on Sunday (Oct 30) attended the funeral of a fishmonger whose gruesome death in a rubbish truck crusher has caused outrage across the North African country, sources said. 

Mouhcine Fikri, 31, was crushed to death on Friday in the truck in the northern city of Al-Hoceima as he reportedly tried to protest against a municipal worker seizing and destroying his wares. 

An image of his inert body – head and arm sticking out from under the lorry’s crushing mechanism – went viral on social media, sparking calls for protests nationwide including in the capital Rabat. 

Footage online showed thousands of people following the yellow ambulance that carried Fikri’s body through his home town in the ethnically Berber Rif region on Sunday.  The procession was led by a dozen drivers in their cars, including taxis, and marchers waving Berber flags. 

Long neglected under the father of the current king, the Rif was at the heart of Morocco’s protest movement for change in 2011.  “Criminals, assassins, terrorists!” some marchers shouted. “Rest, martyr Mouhcine. We will carry on the struggle!”

Another protester demanded a proper investigation into the incident to “find those who did it”.  The exact circumstances of Fikri’s death remain unclear.  But a human rights activist told AFP that the authorities forced the fishmonger to destroy several boxes of swordfish, whose fishing is banned. 

“The goods were worth a lot of money,” said Fassal Aoussar from the local branch of the Moroccan Association of Human Rights.  “The salesman threw himself in after his fish and was crushed by the machine,” he said. 

“The whole of the Rif is in shock and boiling over.”

The interior ministry and prosecutors in Al-Hoceima have ordered an investigation into the incident. 

King Mohammed VI has ordered a “thorough and exhaustive investigation” into the incident and the “prosecution of whoever is found responsible”, an interior ministry statement said. 

The king – who was in Zanzibar on a tour of East Africa – sent Interior Minister Mohammed Hassad to “present his condolences” to Fikri’s family, it said. 

It was the self-immolation of a street vendor in Tunisia in late 2010 in protest at police harassment that sparked Tunisia’s revolution and the Arab Spring uprisings across the rest of the region the next year.