The Tunisian government announced on Sunday, December 24, the suspension of all Emirates airline flights to and from the North African country, after a number of Tunisian women have been denied access to its flights without any explanation provided.
Local media reported that Tunisian women had been prevented from boarding Emirates flights to Dubai over several days.The Tunisian transport ministry said in a statement that the ban on Emirates flights to Tunis will remain into effect “until the airline finds the appropriate solution to operate flights in accordance with international law and agreements.”
The ministry also said that such actions were “illegal” and “contradictory to the regulations in force in international civil aviation.” After the Tunisian government had asked the United Arab Emirates ambassador for clarifications, it had been told that the travel restriction was “temporary and relating to security arrangements.”
“We contacted our Tunisian brothers about security information that necessitated taking specific procedures,” said the Emirati Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash on Twitter on Sunday.He also said that the UAE “highly values Tunisian women and respects them,” adding that “we should avoid attempts at interpretation and errors.”
According to Tunisia’s state news agency TAP, the United Arab Emirates has information that women holding Tunisian passports might commit “terrorist acts” in the Gulf country. Following the ban, the UAE issued a statement stating that it will stop flying to Tunisia as instructed starting from Monday.
Many human rights groups blasted UAE’s measure that targeted Tunisian women and qualified it as as “sexist and racist.”