Tunisian politicians and civil society groups have expressed their rejection of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman‘s upcoming visit to Tunisia.
The visit is part of Prince Mohammed’s first tour abroad since the killing of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul, which has widely been blamed on the crown prince.
Saida Qarash, a spokesperson of the Tunisian government, confirmed the visit of Prince Mohammed, also known as MBS, on November 27 via a local radio station.
The crown prince arrived in Abu Dhabi late on Thursday and is due to visit other countries in the region, including Bahrain and Egypt, where he will be warmly received by allied leaders who have stood firmly by his side amid international outrage over the murder of Khashoggi.
MBS will also attend the G20 Summit in Argentina at the end of this month, where he will likely come face-to-face with world leaders, including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has implicitly accused the crown prince of being behind the killing.
The Saudi Royal Court said that the tour was decided on the directives of King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and that it aims to strengthen the kingdom’s relations regionally and internationally.
Qarash said Tunisia condemns Khashoggi’s murder, and stressed that her country’s position calls for revealing the truth.
According to Tunisian activist and former leader of the al-Irada party Tarek Kahlawi, hundreds of people are expected to gather in front of the presidential palace in Carthage, in conjunction with the crown prince’s arrival.
“It is a shame that Tunisia, which has witnessed a democratic transition and a revolution against tyranny and dictatorship, will receive a criminal whose hands were stained with the blood of Saudis and Yemenis,” he told Al Jazeera.
Kahlawi explained that the protest tent is a “citizenship initiative” that was called upon by all political parties to protest against the visit of the crown prince.
Hamma Hammami, the spokesperson of the main opposition Popular Front party, also condemned the upcoming visit of MBS and considered it a “provocation to the Tunisian people and its revolution and principles”.
“We will not welcome the devastator of Yemen and its people, the one who is suspected of being behind the gruesome killing of Khashoggi, and the leader of normalising with the Zionist entity at the expense of the Palestinian people,” Hammami told a local Tunisian radio station.
For his part, Emad Al-Daimi, the leader of the People’s Movement party, warned Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi in a Facebook post of the consequences of “committing a mistake by allowing bin Salman to desecrate the soil of Tunisia.”
‘MBS not welcome’
A team of Tunisian lawyers said they would file a lawsuit, commissioned by bloggers and journalists who are demanding a ban on the visit.
In an open letter addressed to Essebsi, the Tunisian press syndicate said the aim of MBS’ visit to Tunisia was to “whitewash his bloody record because of his involvement in human rights violations”.
Intelligence officials and analysts say the operation to kill Khashoggi, who wrote critically of the crown prince for The Washington Post, could not have happened without Prince Mohammed’s knowledge. The kingdom denies the crown prince was involved.
The letter described MBS as a threat to security and peace in the region and the world, in addition to being a true enemy of freedom of expression.
“The blood of Khashoggi is not yet cold, and the murderer [Mohammed] bin Salman is not welcome in the country of Tunisia,” Tunisian Journalists Syndicate president Naji Baghouri said in a blog post on Facebook.