Mohammed Serbout
Mohammed Serbout campaign leader

Five unemployed Moroccan men set themselves on fire in the capital Rabat

Five unemployed Moroccan men set themselves on fire in the capital Rabat as part of widespread demonstrations in the country over the lack of jobs, especially for university graduates, a rights activist said Thursday. Three were burned badly enough to be hospitalized.

Self-immolation has become a tactic of protest in the Middle East and North Africa over the past year. In December 2010, a vegetable seller in Tunisia set himself on fire to protest police harassment, setting off an uprising that toppled the government and sparked similar movements elsewhere in the region.

The Moroccans were part of the “unemployed graduates” movement, a loose collections of associations across the country filled with millions of university graduates demanding jobs. The demonstrations are often violently dispersed by police and in some towns and cities have resulted in sustained clashes.

While the official unemployment rate is only 9.1 percent nationally, it rises to around 16 percent for graduates.

Around 160 members of the movement have been occupying an administrative building of the Ministry of Higher Education for the past two weeks in Rabat as part of their protest. Supporters would bring them food until two days ago when security forces stopped them.

Tkb

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