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Tunisia's royal artefacts withdrawn from France online sale following uproar

Tunisians slammed France's attempt to sell the historical artefacts [Getty]

Date of publication: 6 June, 2020

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The artefact has been withdrawn from online sale after uproar from the Tunisian authorities.
Tunisia’s National Heritage Institute (INP) has succeeded in having 114 artefacts from the history of the country’s royal families withdrawn from an online auction in France.

Ghazi Gherari, ambassador and permanent representative of Tunisia to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), released a statement on Twitter confirming "intense efforts have led to the withdrawal of the major pieces of the auction organised by the Paris-based Coutau-Bégarie auction house, on June 11.”

Tunisia’s culture ministry said it aims "to protect, preserve the cultural, historical, artistic and archaeological heritage.”

More than 100 objects "of huge historical value were taken out of the country without any official authorisation in the second half of March, in the midst of the (coronavirus) lockdown", Faouzi Mahfoudh said.

"They don't belong to any state museum.

"It's private property," the head of the National Heritage Institute told AFP.

They include an ancient Quran, which belonged to Mohamed el-Moncef Bey, one of the last representatives of the Husseinite monarchy that ruled Tunisia from 1705 until its independence from France in 1957.

Also in the lot is the original copy of a reference book on the Husseinite monarchy written by the 19th century Tunisian historian and politician Ahmed ibn Abi Dhiaf.

Among the 114 objects are ceremonial apparel from the start of the 20th century, religious manuscripts, poetry books, and official correspondence.

They were due to go under the hammer in an online 11 June sale organised by the Paris-based Coutau-Bégarie auction house.

The artefacts had been removed without permission and are private property belonging to Mohsen Jalouli, the grandson of Habib Jalouli (1857-1957), former minister of justice of the Bey of Tunis.

Meanwhile, the ministry of health in Tunisia on Wednesday announced one more case of Covid-19, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 1,087.

The ministry also said that 965 patients had recovered from the virus to date, and the total deaths had gone up to 49.

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