Morocco: Authorities Punish Attempted Pro-Democracy Protests

Rabat-MAP- Moroccan police suppressed pro- democracy demonstrators calling for faster democratic change with attempted marches on Sunday.

Echoing demands that have spread from North Africa to Yemen, Moroccans who took to the streets today in two of the country’s biggest cities were met with responses similar to those encountered by protesters around the Middle East.

In the capital Rabat, marchers were surrounded by riot police who charged them with batons, barred all exit routes and arrested civilians while forcing the crowd to disperse.

“The government is going back to its old habits: forbidding peaceful demonstrations, brutalizing and arresting young protesters,” said Omar Balafrej, a demonstrator who spoke while hiding from security forces along with dozens of others.

Demonstrations occurred also in Casablanca, according to a person who witnessed the events and asked not to be identified out of concern for his safety, with some demanding the dissolution of the government and greater involvement in rewriting the constitution.

Following popular unrest around the Middle East that has toppled governments in Egypt and Tunisia, Morocco’s King Mohammed VI said in March he would introduce more liberties. Demonstrations had begun there Feb. 20, aimed at reducing the king’s power, curbing corruption and ending police brutality.

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