November 26, 2018 / 12:26 PM / 14 days ago

Tunisia activists to protest against Saudi Crown prince visit

TUNIS, Nov 26 (Reuters) - Tunisian rights groups on Monday will stage a protest against a visit of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, activists said.

Tunisia is one of the few Arab states where demonstrations are allowed, following a 2011 uprising that toppled the president and gave its once-staid media a new lease of life.

The Saudi crown prince is expected to arrive on Tuesday, part of a tour of several Arab countries on his first trip abroad since Khashoggi’s murder, which has strained Saudi Arabia’s ties with the West and battered his image abroad.

A total of 13 Tunisian civic and rights groups, among them the journalists’ union, will hold a protest in the afternoon at the central Habib Bourguiba avenue in Tunis, the venue of mass protests against the rule of Zine el-Abidine Ben Al in 2011.

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

Saudi Arabia has said the crown prince had no prior knowledge of the killing of the Washington Post columnist at Riyadh’s consulate in Istanbul last month.

After offering numerous contradictory explanations, Riyadh said Khashoggi had been killed and his body dismembered when negotiations to persuade him to return to Saudi Arabia failed.

Since the 2011 uprising that ended the rule of Ben Ali and triggered the Arab Spring protests that convulsed the region, Tunisia has become one of the few Arab countries where protests are permitted. (Reporting by Tarek Amara, Writing by Ulf Laessing, Editing by William Maclean)

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