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Saudi Crown Prince Decision to Visit Tunisia Triggers Major Protests

Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman’s (MbS) visit to Tunisia is witnessing an outrage in the country, with the prince due to arrive on Tuesday. As reported by Reuters, dozens of Tunisian activists and journalists staged a protest on Monday, which came after his alleged role in ordering the killing of Saudi Journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, got exposed.

It is believed that Khashoggi’s body was dismembered by a Saudi-hit squad assigned by the government, when he went inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey on October 2.

Countries like Saudi do not reserve any space for protest or freedom of expression and Tunisia is one of the few Arab states where protests are allowed. The change was introduced following the 2011 unsprings, which dethroned the ruler, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, and introduced the country to freedom of speech and press freedom.

The Saudi crown prince promised modernization on a large scale, however, his ideas to implement those changes have toppled drastically. MBS is currently on a tour of several Arab countries; his first trip since the Khashoggi murder, which has put his nation’s image under question.

As of now, 13 Tunisian civic and rights group, including journalist’s union, had called out for protest at the central Habib Bourguiba avenue in Tunis; the same place where masses of people protested against Ben Ali in 2011.

The protest saw pamphlets demanding “Freedom for Saudi women” besides quoting MbS as “Bin Salman, you are murderer Number 1”.

“The Tunisian revolution… cannot agree to receive him (bin Salman) and allow him to clean himself (with his visit) of a murder,” Soukaina Abdessamad of the journalists’ union told reporters. “We will stage protests on Monday and Tuesday.”

However, Riyadh has denied the accusations and had said that the crown prince had no prior knowledge of the killing of the Saudi journalist. Besides, even the Saudi Finance Minister, Adel al-Jubeir, called CIA’s findings against MbS in the Khashoggi murder as ‘baseless’.

On the other hand, it is clear that Saudi’s ode to move ahead at the pace of Western economies has suffered a major blow. Therefore, MbS now seeks to carve the kingdom’s image by paying visits to different Arab nations and win their trust back as part of starting from the scratch.

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