Tunisia, known as the birthplace of the Arab Spring, has been facing a surge of racist attacks on sub-Saharan African migrants and its black Tunisian minority. The wave of violence was unleashed after Tunisian President Kais Saied made incendiary remarks, accusing sub-Saharan migrants of being part of a “criminal plot” to change the country’s demographic makeup. His speech has been linked to a series of attacks, evictions, and retaliation against migrants, many of whom have been living in Tunisia for years.
Like many black Tunisians, 26-year-old Nebras Magnnah has been living in fear since Saied’s speech. Magnnah, who works as a waitress, says that since the speech, she has been insulted and verbally harassed on the street. She believes that the President’s comments have incited physical and verbal violence against black Tunisians and sub-Saharan African migrants, with racist actions being taken without fear of reprisal.
Tunisia’s black minority makes up around 10 to 15 per cent of the country’s 12 million people, with many having roots in Tunisia that date back centuries. The anti-racism campaign group Mnemty, headed by Saadia Mosbah, has reported five to six attacks on black Tunisians in recent weeks. Mosbah, a former flight attendant, says that after Saied’s speech, she noticed that black Tunisians were also afraid.
Mosbah is also among the many Tunisians who have been insulted and harassed since the speech, with people telling her to “go home.” Despite this, she has been working to provide necessities to the most vulnerable among the more than 21,000 sub-Saharan migrants living in Tunisia. She argues that the Tunisian state is neither “racist nor segregationist,” but after the president’s comments, racism that was “more or less hidden” has rapidly “risen to the surface.” Mosbah believes that Saied’s speech was “like a green light from the political power to racists,” and she is surprised to see that even the country’s so-called “intellectual elite” are among those expressing racist comments.
The surge of racist attacks on black Tunisians and sub-Saharan African migrants is a cause for concern for the international community, with human rights organisations calling for urgent action. The situation in Tunisia highlights the need for greater education and awareness around issues of racism and xenophobia.
As individuals, we can help to combat racism by learning more about the experiences of others and by challenging racism wherever we see it. We can support organisations working to provide assistance to vulnerable communities, and we can advocate for policies that promote equality and diversity.
As a global community, we must continue to work towards a more just and equitable world, where every individual is valued and respected, regardless of race or ethnicity. Tunisia has made progress towards this goal in the past, and we must ensure that it continues to move forward on this path.
In conclusion, President Kais Saied’s comments have unleashed a wave of racism and violence against black Tunisians and sub-Saharan African migrants in Tunisia. We must work together as individuals and as a global community to combat racism and ensure that every individual is valued and respected. Tunisia has made progress in the past, and we must ensure that it continues on this path towards a more just and equitable society.