Zoulkha Zefzafi, holds a portait of her son, activist and leader of the protest movement Nasser Zefzafi, in her house in the town of Al-Hoceima, Morocco June 3, 2017. REUTERS/Youssef Boudlal
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Under the banner of the People's Movement, Moroccans have just staged the country's biggest political protest since the "Arab Spring" and some now say that only intervention by their king can defuse a deepening crisis. For months, demonstrators have taken to the streets in the Rif region around the northern city of Al-Hoceima to vent their frustrations over the economic, social and political problems of a kingdom that presents itself as a beacon of stability in a turbulent region.Authorities have responded by arresting as many as 100 leaders and members of the movement, called Al-Hirak al-Shaabi in Arabic, since the end of May.Undaunted, tens of thousands marched through Rabat Sunday, the greatest number to join a demonstration since a wave of rallies in 2011 forced King Mohammad VI to allow some democratic reforms.In a country where political protests are rare and the royal palace remains the ultimate power, the demonstrators have directed their anger at the government and the king's entourage rather than the monarch himself. Moroccan authorities have arrested 11 people over Fikri's death and promised development projects for Al-Hoceima and the wider Rif region, long a hotbed of anti-government dissent and unrest among the indigenous Berber community.
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