Rabat – On Sunday, April 7, inhabitants of the city of Al Hoceima, the main city of northern Morocco’s Rif region, took to the streets by the hundreds to demand the release of Nasser Zefzafi, the leader of the popular mass protests in 2016 and 2017 known as Hirak.Waving Amazigh (Berber) flags, protesters chanted slogans such as “Death instead of humiliation,” “The state is corrupt,” and “We want prisoners freed!”Incarcerated in the Casablanca Oukacha prison since May 2017, Nasser Zefzafi lost his appeal on April 5 at the Court of Appeals in Casablanca, which upheld his 20-year sentence. Read also: 25 European MPs Call on Morocco to Free Hirak PrisonersA Casablanca court found Hirak activists guilty on charges of “attacks on the internal and external security of the State, violence with premeditation,” and “disturbing the public order.”The court handed down sentences from 1 to 20 years for 54 Hirak activists in June 2018. Human rights organization Amnesty International deemed the guilty verdicts “unfair” and said they must be overturned.Three other prominent Hirak activists, including Ouassim El Boustati and Samir Ghid, like Zefzafi, received 20 years in prison. Hirak leaders like Zakaria Adehchour, Mohamed Haki, and Mohamed Bouhenouch received 15-year sentences.The journalist Hamid El Mahdaoui received a 3-year prison sentence on a charge related to national security threats. Human Rights Watch described the charges against Mehdaoui as “dubious.” The activists appealed the sentences, but Zefzafi refused to attend an appeal hearing in January 2019, claiming there was an “absence of the minimum requirements for a fair trial.” On April 3, 24 members of the European Parliament and an MP from the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly addressed a letter to Morocco’s justice minister Mohamed Aujjar, calling on him to free Nasser Zefzafi and “all the prisoners of the popular movement of the Rif.”Read also: Dutch MPs Summon Moroccan Ambassador Over Hirak Appeal RulingThe letter also expressed concern for Zefzafi’s deteriorating health and the distance between the court in Casablanca and the prisoners’ families in Al Hoceima. Moroccans protested outside the court to decry the ruling and call for the immediate release of the Hirak activists. The Hirak protests broke out in October 2016 following the tragic death of a fishmonger, Mohcine Fikri, who was crushed in a garbage truck when he attempted to retrieve his confiscated merchandise.
The main thing is that everybody is proud to wear that jersey. Come on Ireland!Dept of Finance negotiators don’t understand Trapattoni’s tactics Tuesday, 10 SeptemberThe officials who negotiate for Ireland with the EU, ECB and IMF have confessed to not understanding what Giovanni Trapattoni is doing.The Irish soccer manager’s job is on the line after a string of poor performances and worse results.“The FAI want him to go,” a Department of Finance spokesman said, “but he’s refusing. What’s that about?”“It looks like he will force them to buy out his contract. It’s very hard to understand why he doesn’t just do what he’s told. That’s what negotiating is all about.”Obama to explore diplomatic route on Seanad Wednesday, 11 September US President Barack Obama has promised to explore a Russian diplomatic initiative before attacking the Seanad.However, Obama made clear his belief that waging war on the Seanad remains the best option.“We’re postponing a vote on military intervention to give the Russians a chance to solve things,” Obama said. “But we won’t delay forever.”It is understood that the Russian initiative would see the Seanad relocate to a warehouse in Ballymount. “They’d still be paid to spout nonsense but no one would have to listen,” Vladimir Putin explained.FAI to seek manager who speaks same language as players Wednesday, 11 SeptemberThe FAI today announced an ambitious plan to appoint a national team manager who speaks the same language as the players.The move comes after Giovanni Trapattoni left the Ireland job by “mutual consent”.“We are deadly serious about finding a manager who can communicate with the players in their own language,” FAI supremo John Delaney said.“And we are reasonably certain that that language is not Italian.”Mr Delaney said FAI linguistic experts were already trying to establish what language the players speak.Taoiseach calls on Government to ‘look busy’ Thursday, 12 September Taoiseach Enda Kenny has responded to stinging criticism from the OECD by calling on his Government to look busy.The OECD said the government needed to do more to tackle the jobs crisis.“Everyone needs to look busy in these difficult times,” the Taoiseach said.“When you are playing solitaire, tweeting, or, God forbid, browsing porn, make sure no one else can see your screen,” he added. “That way it looks like you’re working.”Dáil reform plans described as ‘completely unnecessary’ Friday, 13 September Ambitious plans to reform the Dáil have been described as completely unnecessary by a locksmith.The Government unveiled a Dáil reform package yesterday aimed at improving parliamentary operations.However, a locksmith in Lucan immediately dismissed the proposals.“They’re completely unnecessary,” he said. “Why reform the Dáil? All you have to do is change the locks.”Ireland in the Bailout Years – a trot through 2009-present day through the satirical lens of The Mire’s Donal Conaty – is on sale now here. Read previous weeks’ editions of The Mire’s Not the News > IS THE NEWS getting you down? Current affairs causing a frown? Satirical site The Mire has an alternative angle on the week’s hot topics.Irish captain Enda Kenny says country has no Plan B Monday, 9 SeptemberTaoiseach Enda Kenny has controversially admitted that Ireland does not have a Plan B for the economy or anything else.“We talk about Plan A and Plan B and crap like that but Ireland has never had a Plan B,” the Irish captain said.“We’ve always had a Plan A, it’s a simple as that. As long as I’ve been around we’ve always done things exactly the same way even though it doesn’t work.”“We’re not Germany or anyone good. We know our strengths are weaknesses and we stick to them,” Mr Kenny added.