Muslim nations spar over suspected ISIS fighters’ return

Tit-for-tat flight suspensions between the United Arab Emirates and Tunisia erupted after women suspected of returning from fighting with ISIS were banned from flights.

By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Citing unnamed security concerns, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) last week banned several Tunisian women from boarding its national airline’s flights to the country, or even transiting through its territory, according to Tunisian government officials.

The Tunisian president’s spokeswoman, Saidra Qrash, said that security agencies in some countries have warned recently that a number of Tunisian women, or women who carry Tunisian passports, have returned from Syria and Iraq where they had fought with ISIS, reported Gulf News.

Qrash noted that the UAE made their decision based on “credible security information,” but did not confirm that this was the reason behind the UAE decision.

The Tunisian Ministry of Transport responded on Sunday by suspending all of Emirates Airlines’ flights to the country, “until [Emirates] can find a suitable solution to operate its flights in accordance with international laws and treaties.”

Soon after, posts started flying on Twitter, with social media users ignoring security concerns and concentrating on “the insult to Tunisian women,” as one tweeter commented. Others called the UAE ban sexist, discriminatory, and even primitive.

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Al Jazeera reported that on one Tunisian radio station, a journalist said, “Backwardness can’t be cured with high-rise towers, a French Louvre museum or man-made islands.” Another tweet called out Jennifer Aniston, who has appeared in Emirates ads, asking, “As women, I wonder what’s your opinion of banning Tunisian women’s [sic] … because you are their media face?”

Emirati Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash tweeted on Sunday that it was security alone that dictated the move, and that the “UAE are proud of our experience in empowering women, we appreciate and respect Tunisian women and value their pioneering experience.”