Tunisian public figures give up Goodwill Ambassador titles after Gaza hospital attack

More than 20.000 Tunisians rallied on Wednesday to protest against Israeli air strikes

Protesters at an anti-Israel demonstration outside the French embassy in the centre of Tunis on Wednesday. AFP
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Tunisian public figures, including social media influencers, journalists, and artists, have announced their resignation from international bodies in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza.

Influencers Louay Cherni and Yassine Sondes said on social media on Wednesday that they are giving up their European Union Goodwill Ambassadors titles.

“In the midst of recent events and the lack of humanity, I decided to give up the title of Goodwill Ambassador for the European Union. Palestine first always and forever,” Mr Sondes said in an Instagram post.

Renowned artist Lotfi Bouchnak also announced on Facebook that he is quitting his role as Goodwill ambassador for the United Nations.

“The artist Lotfi Bouchnak announces his resignation from the title of Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations in protest against the appalling silence of this organisation regarding the injustice happening to innocent Palestinian civilians,” Mr Bouchnak posted on Wednesday.

Tunisian journalist and BBC North Africa Correspondent, Bassam Bounenni announced his resignation from the broadcasting network.

“This morning I submitted my resignation from the British Broadcasting Corporation, as required by my professional conscience,” Mr Bounneni said in a written statement on his Facebook and X accounts.

A number of users X (formerly Twitter) blamed a report published by the BBC entitled “Is Hamas building tunnels under hospitals and schools?” for being indirectly responsible for Israel’s bombing of Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza.

The news channel has been garnering negative reactions from some viewers due to what they say is its biased reporting on the continuing Gaza-Israel war.

Tunisian journalists Achouak Hannachi and Amani Oueslati also announced their resignation from the French channel Canal+ due to its alleged “lack of professionalism” in its Gaza-Israel war coverage.

“Since October 7, we have decided to resign and have not stepped foot in Canal+ [office]. Our professionalism, upbringing and our stance regarding the Palestinian cause does not need questioning,” Ms Hannachi said in a Facebook post.

Thousands in the Arab world have been protesting against what they consider as western complicity in the continuing bombing of civilians in Gaza which has killed more than 3,800 people, including more than 500 people in a single Israeli air strike on Al Ahli Hospital on Tuesday evening.

In Tunis, 20.000 people protested in Habib Bourguiba Avenue on Wednesday, with the main gathering in front of the French Embassy, according to official interior ministry numbers.

The protest is believed to be Tunisia's largest gathering of demonstrators since the 2011 uprising that ousted former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

The ministry said an estimated 70,000 people had protested in cities across the country.

The protesters called on their government to expel the French and American ambassadors after accusing them of being complicit in the continuing bombing and killing of Palestinians in Gaza.

People also headed towards the US Embassy, chanting anti-American slogans and denouncing President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel.

Protesters wrote slogans accusing Mr Biden of being complicit in the “Gaza Genocide” on a wall facing the American embassy.

“Biden you won’t hide, we charge you with genocide,” one slogan read.

Ghassen Khlifa, a journalist and a member of the Tunisian Anti Normalisation Campaign Against the Zionist Entity, told The National outside the US Embassy in Tunis that the Tunisian state needs to take a firm position against all countries involved in the massacre of the people of Gaza.

“The American state has supported, without any mask, the Zionist state in its crimes against the people of Gaza,” Mr Khlifa said.

“Being here [in front of the American Embassy] is the least we could do at this point.”

Updated: October 19, 2023, 4:40 PM