Morocco's king stresses to safeguard homeland
RABAT, July 29 (Xinhua) -- The Moroccan King Mohammed VI on Sunday urged Moroccans to safeguard their homeland, protect it and contribute to its development and progress.
He made the remarks in a speech on the 19th anniversary of his accession to the throne, in the northern city of Al Hoceima, the epicenter of a mass protest movement that started in October 2016 and lasted for nearly ten months.
"True patriotism enhances unity and solidarity, especially in testing circumstances," the king said.
"I am confident that Moroccans will not allow the advocates of chaos and nihilism or the peddlers of misconceptions to exploit certain deficiencies in order to encroach upon Morocco's security and stability and belittle its gains and achievements," he said.
"We shall continue to move forward together and work hand in hand to overcome transient as well as objective hurdles and bring about conditions that allow us to continue implementing development programs and projects, create jobs and provide for a dignified life," he added.
The protest movement started in October 2016 when fish vendor Mouhcine Fikri was crushed to death after climbing into a rubbish lorry to retrieve his swordfish confiscated by police for being caught out of season.
The demand for justice for the vendor evolved into a major grassroots movement to protest against government negligence and a call for greater investment and jobs.
On the previous throne anniversary, the king granted his pardon to dozens of convicts over protests.
He also fired several ministers and senior officials over their involvement in delaying development projects in the region.
But in late June, a Moroccan court sentenced 53 protesters in prison in terms between one and 20 years. Many demonstrations and sit-ins were staged to denounce the sentences and call for freedom for the arrested.