Malek Jaziri pleads at Wimbledon: Tunisia needs tourism

Published July 2nd, 2015 - 05:13 GMT

Tunisia’s top tennis player at Wimbledon has condemned Isis terrorists for attempting to destroy his nation’s fragile economy and pleaded with tourists not to desert the country.

Amid heightened tournament security in the wake of Friday’s attack on the beach at Sousse, where 30 Britons are thought to have been killed, Malek Jaziri said that the despair poverty breeds in the country had played a part in young Tunisians being radicalised.

“It happens more easily where more people are poor,” Jaziri said. “I don’t know how but that’s when [insurgents] infect them.”

After his tournament ended at the first round with a five-set defeat to Australian James Duckworth 6-7, 2-6,  6-3, 6-3, 5-7, Jaziri asked tourists not to desert the fledgling democracy and said that Tunisia’s border with Libya must be tightened to prevent more atrocities.

“This is the moment when Tunisia needs people around,” said Jaziri, one of only three Tunisians at Wimbledon. “Our economy is based on tourism. We’ve never had a problem with religion. [People] think we have a lot of extremism, but all religions live together, so we have to contain all these things and be more strict. Hopefully in the future it can be better.”

Jaziri, who is ranked 83rd in the world, was at the centre of controversy last year when the ATP World Tour investigated whether he had deliberately withdrawn from a first-round match in Montpellier in order to avoid playing Israeli Dudi Sela.

He was judged not to have done, though suspicion had been aroused by his withdrawal from the Tashkent Challenger tournament in 2013 before his match against Israel’s Amir Weintraub.

Tunisia was ultimately suspended from last year’s Davis Cup after it was found that its tennis federation had ordered Jaziri to pull out. Jaziri also withdrew from the doubles in Montpellier where he was due to team up with Marc Lopez and face Israeli Yoni Erlich and partner Frantisek Cermak in the quarter-finals.

This Friday’s play at Wimbledon will be delayed as part of the minute’s silence in memory of those who died in Sousse.

By Ian Herbert

Copyright © Independent Print Limited

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