Monday, February 21, 2011

What's going on in Morocco?

CNN International reports:
Protests sweeping through the Middle East and North Africa have spread to Morocco, where thousands demonstrated Sunday to call for political reform, according to a human rights organization.

Police stayed away from the marches and demonstrations, most of which were peaceful, Human Rights Watch reported.

A government spokesman told a Russian television station on Sunday that protests in Morocco are not unusual, according to the Moroccan state news agency, Agence Maghreb Arabe Presse.

"Unlike most Arab countries, rallies and protests are common in Morocco," said Khalid Naciri, communication minister and government spokesman.

Naciri said the protesters' demands are "ordinary" and that the rallies take place lawfully and preserved public order in an environment of "stability." He also said the protests are part of the practice of democracy, Agence Maghreb Arabe Presse said. Demonstrators' demands are on the agenda of most political parties, he said.

Sounds like things are normal and under control.

Yet at the same time, Arabic Al Arabiya is reporting that there are 5 dead and dozens injured as people are rampaging through the streets, smashing cars, torching buildings and breaking store windows. The five were burned to death in a bank that was set on fire, mostly in Al Hociemba. 40 security personnel were injured.

The photos seem to support the Al Arabiya version.

UPDATE: CNN now mentions the bodies, without quite understanding what else happened yesterday.