Hundreds rally in support of Tunisia president amid series of arrests

Hundreds rally in support of Tunisia president amid series of arrests
Hundreds rally in support of Tunisia president amid series of arrests

Hello and welcome to the details of Hundreds rally in support of Tunisia president amid series of arrests and now with the details

Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Supporters of Tunisian President Kais Saied carry flags during a demonstration to show their support for him and to reject what they say is ‘foreign interference’, in Tunis, Tunisia May 19, 2024. — Reuters pic

TUNIS, May 19 — Hundreds of people rallied today in downtown Tunis in support of President Kais Saied amid the recent arrests of journalists, lawyers, and other dissenting public figures in Tunisia.

The rally came days after an international backlash over the flurry of arrests, which the UN and the EU said were unlawful.

President Saied on Thursday blasted the international criticism as foreign “interference” and ordered the Tunisian foreign ministry to summon the ambassadors of several countries.

“No to foreign interference, because we are a sovereign state,” said Saber Rzigue, a protester on Sunday.

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“We support the Tunisian leadership, particularly President Kais Saied.”

Civil society in Tunisia condemned the recent crackdown on dissent, with the country that saw the onset of the Arab Spring readying for presidential elections this autumn.

Several prominent pundits, journalists, lawyers and civil society figures in the North African country have been arrested in recent days.

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“We are against foreign interference and against traitors, even if they are Tunisian,” said Mohamed Hentati, another protester.

“Today, we want to contribute to history and stand against anyone who wants to occupy our country and try to change its social fabric,” he added.

Additionally, around 40 public figures including eight of Saied’s political opponents, former ministers, and businessmen, are currently detained as part of an investigation into a “plot against the state security”.

Sunday’s rally also came after a significant protest and strike by lawyers earlier in the week over police raids and arrests in the national bar association.

The head of the bar, Hatem Meziou, called for an end to “the abuse of power” and for President Saied to intervene.

But Saied, who seized sweeping powers in 2021, replied on Thursday by saying the arresting of two lawyers was “in full respect for Tunisian law, which guarantees equality and the right to a fair trial”.

In January, Human Rights Watch said Tunisia suffered “further regression in terms of human rights and the rule of law during 2023 in the absence of genuine checks and balances”.

“The government has taken new steps to muzzle free speech, prosecute dissent and crack down on migrants and asylum seekers,” it added.

But demonstrators on Sunday defended the president.

“Kais Saied is above all of us,” said Mahmoud, a protester who chose not to give his full name.

“It is in him that we trust. He brought us security and peace.” — AFP

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