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Tuesday, February 22, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Protest wave hits Morocco, king 'will not give in'

CAIRO — At least five people were killed and about 130 injured in protests that swept the Moroccan kingdom. In some cities, rioters were said to have attacked government buildings, banks and police stations. In all, 37,000 people were said to have joined the opposition.


"We will not give in to the demagogues," Moroccan King Mohammed said.

Clashes between security forces and protesters were reported in such cities as Larache, Marrakesh, Sefrou and Tangier on Feb. 20. In one attack in the northern town of Hoceima, rioters torched a bank in which five people were later found dead.

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"Some troublemakers forced their way into a customs building and stole drugs and alcohol," Interior Minister Tayeb Cherkaoui said.

At a news conference on Feb. 21, Cherkaoui said 128 people, most of them police, were injured. He said 120 people were arrested during the protests, which demanded a significant reduction in the power of the king.

The demonstrations were said to have been the largest in Morocco. Organizers said the new opposition movement, called "Feb. 20," recruited through such communications tools as Facebook and Twitter.

The opposition campaign has been joined by Islamic groups. They were said to have included the banned Justice and Charity movement as well as left-wing parliamentarians.

The campaign has also won the support of the king's cousin, Prince Moulay Hisham El Alawi, an instructor at Stanford University and said to be third in line to the throne. Moulay, who has long called for a constitutional democracy, sent a message to the protesters.

"I'm for any initiative that calls for democratising our political system, provided it is done peacefully and with tolerance," Moulay said. "It appears that this movement fulfils these conditions and so I support it."

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