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Tunisia protests planned over visit by Saudi crown prince

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This picture taken on November 26, 2018 shows a banner hanging outside Tunisia’s Journalists Union in the capital Tunis depicting Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with a caption reading in Arabic “no welcomes to bin Salman in Tunisia, the land of the revolution”, before another giant banner depicting him holding a chainsaw with another caption reading in Arabic “no to the desecration of Tunisia, the land of the revolution”. (Photo by FETHI BELAID / AFP)

Tunisian unions and civil society groups called for protests on Monday against a planned visit by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Tunisia’s presidency has said the de facto Saudi ruler will visit the North African nation for several hours on Tuesday as part of a regional tour, without providing details on the programme.

A demonstration is planned for Monday at 5 pm (1600 GMT) in the centre of Tunis, organised by the National Union of Tunisian Journalists and several NGOs and civil society organisations.

Other protests — organised by student bodies — are planned for Tuesday morning in Tunis and the city of Sfax.

Saudi Arabia has faced intense global criticism over the killing of insider-turned-critic Khashoggi in its Istanbul consulate on October 2.

He was reportedly dismembered in what Saudi Arabia said was a “rogue” operation, but CIA analysis leaked to the US media pointed the finger at Prince Mohammed.

“No to the desecration of Tunisia, country of the revolution” read a large banner displayed over the weekend at the journalists’ union, depicting a man in traditional Saudi dress holding a chainsaw with his back to the camera.

In an open letter to Tunisia’s presidency, the journalists’ union slammed “the visit of the Saudi crown prince, which constitutes a danger for the safety and the peace of the region and the world, and a real threat to freedom of expression”.

His arrival, the union said, would be “a flagrant violation of the principles of our revolution”.

Tunisia’s 2011 uprising deposed longtime dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and triggered the Arab Spring.

The Saudi crown prince is on his first foreign tour since the Khashoggi affair erupted, taking in the UAE and Bahrain ahead of Tunisia.

Saudi Arabia has warned criticism of Prince Mohammed is a “red line”.


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