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The government of Tunisia has banned all flights into and out of the country by Emirates.

“The Ministry of Transport has decided to suspend the flights of Emirates Airlines to and from Tunisia until the company is able to find a suitable solution to operate its flights in accordance with international laws and treaties,” the Tunisian ministry announced on Sunday.

The airline said it will suspend its routes between Dubai International Airport (DXB) and Tunis-Carthage International Airport (TUN) starting today, December 25.

The ban comes in direct response to the UAE-based airline prohibiting women under 30 with Tunisian passports from boarding its planes as late as Friday, part of a larger government ban on Tunisian women entering the UAE.

According to the Tunisian state news agency, the UAE had knowledge that led them to believe women with Tunisian passports might be planning “terrorist acts.” Though the UAE didn’t comment on that, the UAE ambassador to Tunisia said that the ban on Tunisian women was a temporary security measure, a stance repeated by the UAE foreign minister on Sunday.

“We have contacted our Tunisian brothers about security information that necessitated taking specific and circumstantial measures,” Anwar Gargash said on his Twitter feed according to Gulf News, adding that “we appreciate Tunisian women, respect them, value their pioneering experience and regard them as a safety valve, and we avoid attempts at misinterpretation and misrepresentation.”

The Tunisian government blasted the move by the UAE as “illegal” before issuing its ban on Emirates flights.

Tunisian women who were denied boarding on Dubai-bound flights said the situation left the airport in Tunis in chaos Friday, with men and children allowed on while their wives and mothers were forced to stay behind. The security measure didn’t apply to Tunisian women with diplomatic passports or resident visas for the UAE.

“So the daughter and the mum stay in Tunisia but the husband and son can travel,” one woman told a Tunisian radio station. “Is this logical? It’s degrading. It’s degrading to the Tunisian woman, to our nationality — to everything.”

The Tunisian foreign minister said the UAE hadn’t informed the Tunisian government about the ban ahead of time, and demanded an apology as outrage in Tunisia grew.

Featured image by Alberto Riva/The Points Guy.

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