Morocco teachers say beaten by police during rally

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 24, 2011 3:29 PM

RABAT (Reuters) - Moroccan police clashed with teachers demonstrating for better benefits Thursday, seriously injuring several people in the capital Rabat, participants said.

Various groups have stepped up protests in recent weeks, emboldened by successful uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia. Tens of thousands gathered in cities across the kingdom Sunday in one of the largest anti-government protests in decades.

"For the last three days we protested peacefully near the Education Ministry, and today we wanted to protest peacefully in front of the prime minister's office," said Mohamed Talbi, a protest organizer in Rabat.

"They prevented us at first, and then they gave the police the order to strike us," he said. "The intervention was violent and barbarous, resulting in at least four seriously injured, and many fainted."

Protester Rashid Benbir said: "An official hit me with a megaphone on my face and many teachers were struck; female teachers were insulted and their veils were pulled out."

Police were not immediately available for comment.

Although many of the protests in the Arab world are focused on removing their rulers, most demonstrators in Morocco are not seeking to topple the king, who this month promised constitutional reform. Instead, they are seeking political rights, and end to corruption and various social benefits.

(Reporting by Zakia Abdennebi; writing by Adam Tanner)