Al Hoceima reeling after officials declare protester dead

A man injured during protests in Al Hoceima has passed away. Imad El Attabi,  22 years old, was declared dead by the Moroccan State on Aug. 8, after he was shot to the head with a tear gas canister during the July 20 million-man march.

The doctors who saw Attabi in Al Hoceima all declared that he was clinically dead; sources close to the story said that the impact of the tear gas bottle had left him brain-dead at the scene. He was moved by plane that night to a military hospital in Rabat, along with three policemen whom were considered to be in dangerous condition. He was declared officially dead by government officials on Aug. 8.

We asked people from the city of Al Hoceima to give us their reactions on the death of Imad El Attabi. Many people had more or less the same reaction: anger and frustration. Only initials have been used to ensure the privacy and security of the people interviewed.


O.B, a student, said: “To be honest, I cried that morning. I cried not only for Imad but for our dignity, our freedom, our people and our land.”

Another student, A.E, said: “I was at the beach, I was really shocked by the news, I got so angry at the government and at the Hogra that is happening.”

Hogra is a Darija word that does not translate easily into English. In this case, it refers to an attitude that condones or is indifferent to the suffering of others.)

Others had a different reaction:

A.A said:  « I think I was waiting for his death actually. I felt like I was watching a movie, and I knew his death was coming.”

Y.M said : “ I knew he was dead, everybody knew he was dead. The fact that they took him to Rabat was just a way to hide the reality that Imad died and a way to not take responsibility for a fact that everyone in the city knows. The police that were supposed to assure the security of the march— the million man, peaceful march that could have went down in Morocco’s history as a success and source of pride for both the people of the Rif and the Moroccan country —killed Imad El Attabi.”

I.C said: “I don’t know what to say about the death of Imad. [The government] were playing us like marionettes since the very beginning and now they want to end what they started. I knew that Imad was dead on the very first day, not when they “officially” declared it. I cannot express my feelings right now, but I know that everybody in the region feels the same as I do.”

S.T. decided to express his thoughts in just three words: “ I feel frustrated.”

These thoughts are the silent counterparts to the much louder mass gatherings that after months are still raging in the region of Al Hoceima.


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