Sun, Dec 31, 2017 - Page 10 News List

UAE cancels handball over women row

AFP, TUNIS

The United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) men’s handball team on Friday cut short a trip to Tunisia, the Tunisian federation said after it appointed female referees for a game in apparent solidarity with women in a row with Emirates airline.

The Gulf visitors forfeited two games after Emirates received instructions to deny Tunisian women access to its planes over a feared “terrorist attack” involving a woman carrying a Tunisian passport.

In response, the North African nation on Sunday last week halted Emirates flights between Tunis and Dubai.

Tunisian handball federation secretary-general Amir Saadi said that women had been appointed as referees for a friendly match between the two national teams on Friday.

However, the UAE team announced it was forfeiting that game and another scheduled for yesterday for “technical reasons,” citing the absence of 10 players and injuries of four others, Saadi said.

They had said “there was no link with political affairs,” he added.

Tunisian social media users have slammed the travel measures against women from their country as “discriminatory” and “humiliating.”

A source in the office of Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi said the two nations were in talks to find a solution.

However, Tunisian Minister of Transportation Radhouane Ayara on Thursday told Sham FM radio that the discussions had not made much ground.

Political analyst Hamza Meddeb said the tensions between Tunisia and the UAE were linked in part to Tunisia not choosing sides.

The UAE was among a group of nations to sever ties with Qatar in June over its alleged support for Islamic extremism and close ties to Iran. Doha has denied all charges.

Meddeb said the UAE wanted to discourage ruling party Nida Tounes from allying with Islamic party Ennahda ahead of local elections in May next year.

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