Tunisian President Kais Saied has sparked controversy and outrage after claiming that the weather phenomenon which battered Libya was unofficially named by the “Zionist movement”.
The storm, known as Ciara, made landfall in Libya late last week, threatening the lives of thousands of people who had taken shelter in displacement camps in the north of the country.
Speaking at a cabinet meeting on Monday, Saied suggested that the storm was “strategically” named by the “Zionist movement” in order to damage the country, the Jerusalem Post reported.
The remarks quickly drew backlash from the international community, with Haaretz saying that Saied’s comments were “anti-Semitic in nature”.
The president’s comments came during a discussion regarding the response required to address the humanitarian crisis that has been created in Libya by the storm.
In a statement released after the meeting, Saied’s office moved to clarify his position, saying that the president was urging the international community to take urgent action to assist those affected by the storm, particularly in terms of emergency aid and long-term support.
They also said that Saied’s comments were meant to emphasize the need for the international community to come to the aid of the Libyan people in their hour of need and not be influenced by external factors.
The president’s office added that it was out of this same spirit of compassion that he called for an immediate end to the forces and countries that are aggravating the human rights situation in Libya.