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In Morocco, press freedom shrinks with Hirak protests

As part of the Moroccan authorities' efforts to silence the Hirak protest movement, journalists are facing pressure and repression, prompting questions about their objectivity and the freedom of the press.
Moroccan activist and the leader of "Hirak" Nasser Zefzafi gives a speech during a demonstration against injustice and corruption in the northern town of Al-Hoceima, Morocco, May 18, 2017. REUTERS/Youssef Boudlal - RC1A255148A0

CASABLANCA — Eight journalists have been jailed since the beginning of the Hirak, a protest movement in the Rif region in northern Morocco that started in October 2016 following the death of Mouhcine Fikri, a fish vendor who was crushed to death by a garbage truck as he tried to get to his confiscated fish. Most of those arrested are citizen journalists reporting for local websites covering the protests and therefore targeted by the crackdown the Moroccan authorities initiated three months ago. The Moroccan Association of Human Rights told Al-Monitor that at least 300 people have been arrested since May as part of the authorities’ efforts to silence the movement.

Among those arrested are Mohamed el-Asrihi and Jawad Sabiri of the Rif24 news website, Abdelali Haddou of Araghi TVRif Presse photographer Houssein al-Idrissi and Fouad Assaidi of Awar TV. Rabie al-Ablaq, a local correspondent for the Badil Info news site, was hospitalized in early August 36 days into a hunger strike. He is currently detained at the Oukacha prison in Casablanca and treated at the infirmary, according to activists.

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