Rabat – Moroccan Prince Moulay Hicham Al Alaoui, the cousin of King Mohammed VI, has stated that Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi was behind his deportation from the country on Friday.
The Harvard University researcher had come to Tunisia to take part in a conference on regional governance and security.
During a TV appearance on France 24 Arabic, the Prince said the decision to expel him went against the values of the Tunisian revolution of 2011, holding the country’s presidency responsible for his deportation.
“I have no doubt this decision was taken at the level of the Tunisian Presidency,” said the Prince.
“It is important that we clarify that the president of the republic is upset about what happened to the researcher Prince Moulay Hicham and his deportation from Tunisian soil, knowing that that the deportation took place according to automatic administrative measures which were taken without consultation with officials, something which we regret,” she wrote in a Facebook post.
Her statement did not convince several Tunisians, who commented on her post criticizing the deportation of the Prince, and demanding that the Tunisian government address formal apologies to him.
While the Prince spoke with certainty about the involvement of the Tunisian Presidency in his deportation, he refused to affirm speculations that said that either Morocco or Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates had pressured Tunisia to expel him.
The Prince is known for his dissident views and calls for the reform of Arab monarchies, a position which made him at odds with the royal palace in Morocco as well as Gulf monarchies.
“A Sovereign Decision”
The Harvard researcher retold the circumstances related to his deportation, saying he was in his hotel’s pool when the hotel’s manager and five police elements came to ask him to accompany them to a police station.
He said he insisted that the manager bring eyewitnesses to testify that he did not have drugs in his hotel room and that he had not committed felony. He then accepted to go to the police station, but he said he refused to be taken in a luxurious car offered by police, instead choosing a regular police car.
“The Tunisian policemen were very courteous,” said the Prince, adding that he was informed the decision to expel him was a “sovereign one.”
In response, he requested a document stating the reason for which he was to be deported.
The policemen said they could not issue a document since he had not committed an offence. For almost 40 minutes, the Prince said, he negotiated with the authorities to get some sort of documentation, ending in an agreement that his passport be signed to testify that his entrance to Tunisia had been cancelled.
After that, he was deported on an Air France plane heading to Paris.