Nasser Zefzafi

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Nasser Zefzafi
Naṣer Azefzaf
ناصر الزفزافي
Nasser Zefzafi.jpg
Born1979 (age 39–40)
OccupationPolitical Activist
Known forHirak Rif

Nasser Zefzafi or Zefzafi (Berber: Naṣer Azefzaf, Arabic: ناصر الزفزافي‎, born 1979 in Al Hoceima)[1] is a Moroccan political activist, who has been described as the leader of the protest movement in the Rif and the city of Al Hoceima, commonly known as Hirak Rif (Riffian movement). On May 29, 2017 he was violently abducted by the Moroccan police and held without charges in an unknown location for several days, before being charged with a list of crimes such as undermining state security, disrespecting the king and receiving funds from abroad used for plots to destabilize the country. These crimes might amount to life imprisonment. He is currently being defended by a team of lawyers, which include Moroccan politician and former Minister, Mohammed Ziane.

The arrest of Zefzafi sparked a wave of protests across the Rif and other parts of Morocco, and in the Moroccan community abroad. Protests which were often countered with police violence and counter-protest organized by the palace to suppress those sympathizing with Zefzafi.

On June 26th 2018, Zefzafi received a 20 years imprisonment along with the other detainees, including Benjaloun and Ahamjik after numerous cancelled trials since their detention.[2] This verdict created waves of social discontent and sparked outrage among Moroccans.


Nasser Zefzafi was born in 1979 in the city of Al Hoceima, northern Morocco. Nasser was born in a politically active family, where his great-grandfather Shaikh l-Yazid n-Hajj Hammu was the minister of interior of the Rif Republic under the rule of Abd el-Krim El-Khattabi[3]. Zefzafi's father was an activist in the leftist party of National Union of Popular Forces.[4] Nasser participated in the 2011–12 Moroccan protests that took place of his city of Al Hoceima.[5]


Nasser Zafzafi participated in the protests after the death of Mohcine Fikri, a 31-year-old fish seller, who was crushed to death in a rubbish bin on October 28, 2016 after trying to recover his confiscated merchandise.[6] In an interview with the news site El Español in January 2017, he declares: "What has happened to Fikri also affects us: if we keep quiet today, it will continue. That is why we must go out to stop this". The spontaneous protests evolved to a movement called the "popular movement" or the "Riffian movement", and demanded a list of economical and social reforms, denouncing all kinds of tyranny and corruption.[7]

This contestation took a political and identity turn since April 2017, when the Moroccan government initially accused the Riffian movement of separatism and being secretly steered from abroad, while Zefzafi denied all these accusations.


Protest in Paris demanding the release of Hirak prisonners, among which is Nasser Zefzafi

On 29 May 2017 Nasser Zefzafi was abducted in Al Hoceima and then shown transported in a helicopter by the Gendarmerie counter-terrorism unit, and then held without charges for several days in Casablanca, before being charged with "threatening national security".[8] This was followed with a series of over 100 arrests of other activists related to the movement from Al Hoceima and other cities.[9] Following these arrests, daily protests began in Al Hoceima, Imzouren and other neighboring cities demanding the release of Zefzafi and the other activists.[10]

Comment from the US embassy in Rabat[edit]

As part of the many videos circulating the net of pro-king thugs calling for the murder of Zefzafi and often, a number of youth from Tangier in US military garb recorded such a video and called for the murder of Zefzafi. The US embassy in Rabat tweeted a few days earlier, on 5 June 2017 that, "The men in msg to Zifzafi video wearing what looks like US military uniforms are NOT US military. We condemn messages supporting violence."[11] and added "We can confirm they are definitely NOT members of the U.S. military and we condemn such messages supporting violence.".[12] After the tweet the protagonist of the video, quickly recorded another video claiming that they were only joking, and that they actually support Zefzafi and the demands of the protest movement in the Rif, adding that they obtained the US military garb while working as extras in some US movie currently being shot in Morocco.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Harmach, Mohammed Amine (2017-05-29). "Qui est vraiment Nasser Zefzafi ?". H24info (in French). Retrieved 2017-06-11.
  2. ^ "Moroccan court sentences Rif protest leader to 20 years in jail". Business Insider. Retrieved 2018-06-27.
  3. ^ Hart, David (1954). The Aith Waryagher of the Moroccan Rif. Viking Fund. p. 379.
  4. ^ "Qui est Zafzafi, le leader du mouvement d'Al Hoceima et que veut-il?". Le Site Info (in French). 2017-05-22. Retrieved 2017-06-11.
  5. ^ ""We are all Zefzafi"—who is the Morocco protest leader causing problems for the king?". Newsweek. 2017-06-01. Retrieved 2017-06-11.
  6. ^ Robinson, Julian. "Trader is killed as he tries to stop police destroying banned swordfish in Morocco | Daily Mail Online". Retrieved 2017-06-28.
  7. ^ "MOROCCO – The unstoppable rehearsal of the downtrodden | The Maghreb and Orient Courier".
  8. ^ "Rif Protests Activist Nasser Zefzafi Arrested". Morocco World News. 2017-05-29. Retrieved 2017-06-11.
  9. ^ "ابتدائية الحسيمة ترفض السراح المؤقت لمعتلقي الحراك". 6 June 2017. Retrieved 2017-06-11.
  10. ^ "Morocco protests: Thousands demand release of Nasser Zefzafi". BBC News. 2017-05-31. Retrieved 2017-06-11.
  11. ^ "US embassy tweet". Retrieved 10 June 2017.
  12. ^ "US embassy tweet". Retrieved 10 June 2017.