Tihuja zi arrif ( stories from the Rif)
In March 2017, during a brief stay in Al Hoceima, I witnessed the protests related to the death of the fisherman Muhsin Fikri the previous October and the poor conditions of the region north of Morocco; the young demonstrators took to the streets highlighting the problems that afflict the Rif: the high unemployment rate, the lack of infrastructure, social and economic inclusion and the media blackout.
To better understand the roots of underdevel- opment and the hostility of the Rif population towards the Mekhzen ( the deep state, centered on the King ́s will ), it is necessary to go back in time, to 1912, when Spain assumed the protectorate of the region through an agreement with France.
Long wars followed, first against the Spanish colonisers in the 1920 ́s and later against the central government in 1958, when the country was under the sovereignty of King Mohammed V.
In 1984, following another rebellion, King Hassan II decided to punish the independents by implementing a policy of marginalisation that would leave the region out of the country's development plans until today.
In June 2017, the “Hirak” protests, which had continued throughout this time, took a violent turn and the police responded with mass arrests, accusing the demonstrators of an ”attack on state security.”
According to Amnesty international over 200 people were arrested by August 2017. The biggest trial started in October and sees among the defendants as well the leader of the protests Nasser Zefzafi and journalist Hamid El Madhaoui.
Over a period of six months I spent a lot of time with young Riffians from a variety of social backgrounds. One thing they all have in common is the desire to leave the country in searh of a better future.
In the major cities of the region, Nador and Al Hoceima, the situation was heavy, the cohabitation with the military was not easy and the optimism to organize cultural events was failing.
My photographic work wants to highlight the gloomy climate of isolation of the Rif inhabitants with a particular focus on the feelings of the young towards institutions and their future.