Thousands protest in Morocco for release of Rif activists
Thousands of Moroccans protested in Rabat on Sunday to demand the release of jailed activists who led protests in the Rif region against economic and social marginalistion.
Demonstrators carried flags of the Amazigh community and pictures of the jailed activists as they chanted "Long live the Rif", "Freedom, dignity and social justice", and "The people want immediate release of Rif detainees", according to Reuters.
Sunday's march brought together families of the activists, human rights groups, the Amazigh movement, leftist political parties and the banned Islamist movement Al-Adl wal-Ihsan.
Earlier this month dozens of activists linked to the Al-Hirak al-Shaabi, or "Popular Movement", that rocked northern Morocco in 2016 and 2017 had prison sentences of up to 20 years upheld by a court of appeal.
The sentences were first handed down in June last year, prompting further demonstrations calling for the group's release.
The movement's leader Nasser Zefzafi and three others received prison terms of 20 years for "threatening the security of the state".
Journalist Hamid el-Mahdaoui was sentenced to three years for failing to tell police he had been offered weapons during the protests - which he called an "imaginary crime".
The protests took hold in the country's marginalised Rif region in October 2016.
The social unrest was sparked by the death of a fisherman and escalated into a wave of demonstrations demanding more development in the neglected region and railing against corruption and unemployment.