Tunisia is making history in the Arab world after hundreds hit the streets to protest the arrival of Saudi Arabia’s crown prince after he was allegedly linked to the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
In a historic first for the region, demonstrators lined the streets of Habib Bourguiba Avenue, Tunis welcoming Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) with jeers from the crowd and denouncing the de facto leader as a “murderer.”
Tunisians criticized national officials for receiving MbS into the country and furthering international relations with Saudi Arabia. Protesters raised a large poster which depicted the Tunisian president pouring water on the bloodied hands of the Saudi crown prince - suggesting Tunisian complicity in washing away guilt.
Prince Mohammed was welcomed by Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi on arrival at Tunis airport, the presidency said, and the two went into talks shortly afterward at Carthage Palace to discuss improvements in matters of economy, finance, investment promotion, security, military cooperation, and anti-terrorism projects.
Among the other demands, demonstrators also called for an end to the Saudi-led military campaign in neighboring Yemen, which was launched by Prince Mohammed in his role as defense minister in 2015.
Human Rights Activist, Arous, who was present at the protest, told Al Jazeera, “We are here to underline our dignity, our national sovereignty and to say we are not for sale. We don't need your oil barrels, or your petrodollars. The free Tunisian people are not for sale.”
"It provokes me that we [Tunisia] are dismissing this framework for economic interests," he said.
The crown prince departed Tunisia on Tuesday evening after a visit of several hours, Al Arabiya television said, and is expected to fly on to a G20 summit in Argentina.
It was his first time abroad since the news of Khashoggi’s murder emerged, implicating the prince in the journalist’s gruesome torture and death.
Jamal Khashoggi, a dissident journalist from Saudi Arabia and Washington Post columnist went into a self-imposed exile to the United States one year ago, when the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman started his widespread crackdown on dissenters.
He went to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 to get papers for his marriage and never returned. Turkey maintained that the kingdom’s officials killed him inside the consulate which Saudi Arabia denied, until three weeks later.
Reports from the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency report MbS ordered the assassination, however, U.S. President Donald Trump says he plans to maintain international relations with the country.