Tunisia suspends Emirates flights over women security measures | News | DW | 24.12.2017
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Tunisia suspends Emirates flights over women security measures

Tunisia has barred Emirates Airlines flights from landing in its territory. The move comes after days of public outcry over United Arab Emirates airport security measures that targeted Tunisian women.

Tunisia's Transport Ministry announced on Sunday that it was barring a United Arab Emirates (UAE) airline from landing in the North African country.

The ministry said that it "decided to suspend" Emirates Airlines flights to its capital Tunis "until the airline is able to find the appropriate solution to operate its flights in accordance with international law and agreements."

The statement, which was posted on the Transport Ministry's Facebook page, did not elaborate on the reasons for the move.

Emirates Airlines said on Twitter that it will "stop services between Tunis and Dubai, as instructed by the Tunisian authorities." They added that the flight suspensions will take effect starting on Monday.

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Row over targeted security measures

The move comes two days after a number of Tunisian women said they had been banned at Tunis airport from boarding Emirates flights to Dubai.

They said their travel to the Gulf state was delayed while others had to undergo additional examination of their visas. The reports sparked angry reactions from Tunisians online as well as in the country's media.

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The UAE said on Sunday that the delays had been caused by "security information," without going into details.

"We contacted our Tunisian brothers about security information that necessitated taking specific procedures," UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash wrote on Twitter.

"We highly value Tunisian women and respect them," he added.

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On Friday, Tunisia's government said it had asked the UAE ambassador for clarification on the matter. The envoy reportedly said the decision was only in effect for a short amount of time and that the restrictions had already been lifted.

Tunisian rights groups issued a statement on Saturday saying the UAE measures were "discriminatory and racist" and called on the government to act.

Tunisia has been trying to repair relations with the UAE since diplomatic ties were strained during the North African country's 2011 revolution, which saw the Islamic party Al-Nahda come to power.

The party has strong ties to Qatar, which has been isolated by the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt. The four Arab countries accuse Qatar of backing "terror" groups, which Qatar denies.

rs/jm (AFP, Reuters)

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