Tunisian activists rally against Mohammed bin Salman visit

Tunisian activists rally against Mohammed bin Salman visit
Tunisian rights groups gathered to protest Mohammed bin Salman before his arrival in Tunis.
2 min read
27 November, 2018
Protesters objected to the Saudi Crown Prince's visit to Tunisia (Author's photo)

Dozens of Tunisian rights activists held a protest outside the municipal theatre in central Tunis on the eve of a planned visit by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Monday.

Raising banners that displayed statements such as: "Bin Salman, war criminal" and "Stop killing children in Yemen", a crowd of people joined the demonstration called by some thirteen Tunisian civil society and rights groups including the journalists' union. 

The rally comes amid growing global criticism at Saudi Arabia over the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in its Istanbul consulate on 2 October, which has strained the kingdom’s ties with the West and damaged his image abroad.

Mohamemd bin Salman's visit to Tunisia is part of a regional tour on his first trip abroad since Khashoggi’s killing whose responsibility would lay with the Saudi ruler according to CIA analysis leaked to US media. 

"We are here to tell bin Salman 'you’re no welcome in our land'", a youth activist named Wael Majri said. "He's responsible for Khashoggi’s assassination, for crimes in Yemen and elsewhere in the world." 

"We ask our president to stop whitewashing terrorists by taking their dirty money", he continued. 

"I am standing against bin Salman’s visit which has been imposed on us", said Morcef, member of the left-wing Popular Front coaliton. "He's a...terrorist for what he did with Khashoggi, what he does to his own Saudi people, and for leading a war on a poor country like Yemen." 

Ahead of Tuesday’s diplomatic visit by the Saudi crown prince, Tunisian civil society started to mobilise to give show of their dissatisfaction. A collective of bloggers, journalists and rights activists tasked a group of fifty lawyers to file a complaint in Tunisian courts to oppose prince Mohammed’s stop in Tunis.

A conference in solidarity with the Yemeni people was organised by the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT) and some civil society groups. 

Tunisian NGOs held a press conference at the National Syndicate of Tunisian Journalists' headquarters where a giant poster covering part of the building's façade depicted the crown prince carrying a chainsaw, and read: "No to polluting revolutionary Tunisia". 

Anoher wall poster outside the HQ of the feminist Tunisian Association of Democratic Women (ATFD) illustrates the Saudi prince holding a whip. "The women's lasher is not welcomed" the poster read. 

In an open letter addressed addressed to President Essebsi, the Tunisian Journalists Union expressed its indignation,  deaming Mohammed bin Salman a threat to security and peace in the region and the world. 

Activists plan to stage more demonstrations in front of the Presidency in Carthage during the Crown Prince's trip to Tunisia.