State of emergency extended in Tunisia by 6 months

Tunisian President Kais Saied announced an extension to the state of emergency in the country by six months starting from Saturday. (File/AFP)
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Updated 30 May 2020

State of emergency extended in Tunisia by 6 months

  • A state of emergency has been in effect in Tunisia since a suicide attack on a police bus in November 2015
  • Successive governments since the uprising of 2011 have failed to resolve stubbornly high inflation and unemployment

LONDON: Tunisian President Kais Saied announced an extension to the state of emergency in the country by six months starting from Saturday. 
A state of emergency has been in effect in Tunisia since a suicide attack on a police bus in November 2015. It has been extended a number of times.
On Thursday, hundreds of Tunisians protested in at least seven cities to demand jobs, which has heaped pressure on a government facing the worse economic crisis in more than 60 years due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Even before the outbreak hammered Tunisia’s tourism sector, which accounts for nearly 10% of gross domestic product, successive governments since the uprising of 2011 have failed to resolve stubbornly high inflation and unemployment that has bred discontent, especially among young people.


Iranian chess referee seeking asylum reveals second reason she can’t go home

Updated 42 min 28 sec ago

Iranian chess referee seeking asylum reveals second reason she can’t go home

  • Women are required to wear the hijab in public in Iran, and those who refuse can face prison
  • Bayat was declared a public enemy by Iranian hard-liners after photos of her emerged from a match with her headscarf around her neck

LONDON: The Iranian chess referee forced to seek asylum in the UK after letting her hijab slip during a match in Shanghai this year has revealed another reason she may never be able to return to her country — her secret Jewish heritage.
Shohreh Bayat told The Daily Telegraph that she had to conceal her family background in her native Iran.
“If they knew I had Jewish background, I would never be general secretary of the Iranian chess federation,” Bayat told the British newspaper.
The leading referee said she had heard anti-Jewish remarks made by chess officials in Iran.
Bayat was declared a public enemy by Iranian hard-liners and received death threats after photos of her emerged from the Women’s World Chess Championship in January with her red headscarf around her neck rather than covering her head.
“All my life was about showing a fake image of myself to society because they wanted me to be an image of a religious Muslim woman, which I wasn’t,” Bayat said, speaking about the Iranian regime.
The 33-year-old said she is not a fan of the hijab, but felt she had to comply — even if that meant covering only a tiny amount of hair.
Women are required to wear the hijab in public in Iran, and those who refuse can face prison.
After being photographed at the world championship match with her hijab around her neck, Bayat said she was warned by family and friends not to return home.
“My mobile was full of messages saying: ‘Please, don’t come back, they will arrest you’,” she told the newspaper.
“I woke up the following day and saw that the (Iranian) federation removed my picture — it was like I didn’t exist,” she said.
Despite death threats, Bayat continued refereeing the second leg of the tournament in Vladivostok, ignoring calls from Iranian officials for a public apology.
At the end of January, she changed her return ticket and traveled to the UK —  the only Western country where she held a valid visa — and applied for asylum. She is waiting for her application to be processed.

Bayat's paternal grandmother was Jewish and moved to Iran from Azeraijan’s capital Baku during the Second World War. 
Last week, Bayat celebrated the Jewish New Year for the first time in her life.
“It was amazing. It was a thing I never had a chance to do,” she said.