The UAE Emirates airline has been banned from landing in Tunisia’s capital, Tunis, after a number of Tunisian women were prevented from boarding its flights.
The ban comes amid widespread anger in Tunisia, with rights groups condemning “racist and discriminatory” measures.
The Tunisian transport ministry said the measure would stay in place until Emirates was able to “operate flights in accordance with law and international agreements”.
In response, the UAE said “security information” had caused the delays.
Emirati Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash tweeted on December 24:
“We contacted our Tunisian brothers about security information that necessitated taking specific procedures. “We highly value Tunisian women and respect them.”
Image source Wikimedia
According to Tunisian government officials, the UAE had banned Tunisian women from flying to or transiting through its territory.
On December 22, the Tunisian government said it had asked the UAE ambassador to clarify what was happening and had been told that the measures had been temporary and had already been lifted.
According to local media, Tunisian women had been blocked from boarding Emirates flights to Dubai over several days.
Some Tunisian women said their journeys to the UAE had been delayed and some that their visas had to undergo additional examination, the AFP reported.
Tunisia has been trying to improve relations with the UAE that were damaged by its 2011 revolution.
Its ruling Ennahda party also has links to Qatar, which has been cut off by the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain over its alleged support for terrorism.
VIDEO Seventeen foreign tourists and two Tunisians have been killed after gunmen targeted Bardo Museum in Tunis, PM Habib Essid says.
Italian, Spanish, Polish and German citizens were among those killed, as well as a Tunisian and a police officer, the prime minister said.
Security forces killed two gunmen and were searching for accomplices, he added.
At the time of the attack deputies in the neighboring parliamentary building were discussing anti-terrorism legislation. Parliament was evacuated following the attack.
At least 22 tourists and two Tunisians were injured in the attack, Habib Essid said.
“It is a critical moment in our history, and a defining moment for our future,” he said. “We have not established the identity of the two terrorists,” the prime minister said.
“Reports are not final, these two terrorists could have been assisted by two or three other operatives.”
Security operations were “still underway”, with forces “continuing to comb the area to find out the remaining operatives, if any”.
The remaining hostages held at the museum had been freed, Reuters news agency reported, citing an unnamed government official.
Local media reports said British, Italian, French and Spanish nationals were among those taken hostage during the attack.
Local television footage showed tourists fleeing to safety, escorted by security forces.
A museum employee told Reuters the two attackers “opened fire on the tourists as they were getting off the buses before fleeing into the museum”.
The attack is a huge blow for Tunisia’s tourism industry and its government, which only emerged at the end of a long political transition several months ago.
The Bardo museum, renowned for its collection of antiquities, is a major attraction in Tunis.
Tourism is a key sector of Tunisia’s economy, with large numbers of Europeans visiting the country’s resorts.
Concerns about security in Tunisia have increased in recent months as neighboring Libya has become increasingly unstable.
A large number of Tunisians have also left to fight in Syria and Iraq, triggering worries that returning militants could carry out attacks at home.
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Tunisian opposition leader Chokri Belaid has been shot dead outside his home in the capital, Tunis, his brother and officials say.
They say that Chokri Belaid was shot in the neck and head on his way to work.
Chokri Belaid was the co-ordinator of the left-leaning Democratic Patriots party.
Tunisia is gripped by a political crisis as talks on a long-awaited cabinet reshuffle to include a wider range of parties in a coalition led by the Ennahda party have broken down.
“My brother was assassinated. I am desperate and depressed,” Chokri Belaid’s brother Abdelmajid Belaid told the AFP news agency.
It is not known who is responsible for the attack on the politician.
On Saturday Chokri Belaid accused “mercenaries” hired by the Ennahda party of carrying out an attack on a Democratic Patriots meeting.
Tunisian opposition leader Chokri Belaid has been shot dead outside his home in the capital, Tunis