Will Qatar’s advocate be sacked from Carthage Palace?
TUNIS - Tunisia President Moncef Marzouki stirred controversy and a stream of online jokes when he warned the Tunisian people against insulting Qatar.
A Facebook page called “Campaign to Insult the State of Qatar,” created shortly after Marzouki’s speech, now has over 28,000 members. Posts on the page offer a broad selection of jokes and insults.
Deputies at the Constituent Assembly (Parliament) called Friday for the withdrawal of confidence from Marzouki.
The radio station "Mosaique FM" quoted Deputy Samir Bettayeb as saying that "the list to dismiss interim President Moncef Marzouki 'which was signed by deputies' has met the legal quorum of signatures.”
He added that he will present the list next Monday to the office of the Constituent Assembly.
The President made the comments during a ceremony in which Tunisia received $28.8 million in funds illicitly hidden by former president Zine Al-Abidine Ben Ali and his family.
After thanking the UN for assisting in the asset recovery, Marzouki thanked Qatar, which he said “paid money to retrieve this portion of Ben Ali’s assets.”
“As a Tunisian and an Arab, people who insult this country,” he said of Qatar, “should feel ashamed before taking responsibility for their deeds in front of the law.”
Qatari attorney general Ali Bin Fetais Al-Marri serves as the UN envoy for recovering funds illicitly taken out of Arab Spring countries by their pre-revolutionary regimes, and was present at the ceremony.
Marzouki’s comments immediately drew criticism in Tunisia.
“I respect the Qatari people and Tunisians respect other Arab nationalities,” said Ahmed Sedik, a leader of the Popular Front, on the Ettounisia television station.
“But Marzouki was not talking about the Qatari people. He was defending the prince of Qatar who opened his country for American military bases that were responsible for the destruction and chaos in Iraq.”
“Our president, who is a human rights activist, knows that Qatar does not have political parties or democracy,” continued Sedik.
“This is the Qatar that Marzouki is defending. What he says does not represent me or Tunisians. Arabs, even the poorest ones, are richer than the leaders of Qatar.’’
Qatar, a wealthy oil-producing nation, has invested billions of dollars in Tunisia.
Online social networks have been awash with jokes at Qatar’s expense since Marzouki’s comments. A Facebook page called “Campaign to Insult the State of Qatar,” created shortly after Wednesday’s speech, now has over 23,000 members. Posts on the page offer a broad selection of jokes and insults.