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Racism in Tunisia: a wave of attack against black people


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Recently, on social media, a lot of french influencers and celebrities are denouncing the way that black people are being attacked and discriminated against in Turkey. 

On February 2, during a meeting of the National Security Council, the President of Tunisia, Kais Saied, made hateful, discriminatory and racist remarks, unleashing a wave of violence against Black Africans. 

He publicly said that “hordes of illegal immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa” had swept over Tunisia and were behind “violence, crimes and unacceptable acts”. He added that it was an “abnormal” situation that was part of a criminal plan designed to “transform the demographic composition of Tunisia” and transform it “only into an African state that does not belong more to the Arab-Islamic world”.

Since then, black people in Tunisia have reported various hate crimes, from getting fired for no reason to police brutality, and violent attacks in the street: since the words of President Kaïs Saïed, denounced as racist by many people, black people living in the country have been hunted down and attacked from all sides, they are taking over social media to denounce their conditions. 

President Kaïs Saïed words really called for hatred and sparked an outbreak of racist violence against black people. After his speech, various groups took to the streets of Tunisia and attacked black migrants, refugees, students and asylum seekers, and police arrested and deported a number of them.

Amnesty International amongst other international organisations have called for the president and tunisian authorities to stop that wave of widespread violence against black people. Before that speech, black people were already facing violence in Tunisia but since february 21 and and after the words of the president things exploded. 

Tunisia was the first country in the Middle East and North Africa region to enact a law that criminalises racial discrimination and allows victims of racism to seek redress for verbal abuse or physical acts of racism. The law was enacted in 2018. Not many countries are known to have enacted such laws. 

However, despite that law, in recent months, a hate campaign against black people has spread on social networks and in the media, leading to the President saying these words publicly. According to Amnesty international, a political party called the Tunisian Nationalist Party, a party that considers that the presence of black Africans in Tunisia is part of “a plot to change the composition of Tunisian society”, is regularly invited to the media and on TV and its members loudly express these opinions online, without the authorities reacting to their hate speech or doing anything about it. 

Obviously the country has become very unsafe for black people. Amnesty International spoke with 50 people who testified being wrongly arrested, sacked from work.

Black people and allies have taken the streets of Tunisia in protest of what’s been happening. Many point out the fact that Tunisia is also part of Africa, and that the whole of Africa should stand together. Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt share not only a colonial past with the rest of Africa, but also a physical continent. It’s time we show some Unity. 

Over social media, people are trying to raise awareness. Users on tiktok have been using the platform to denounce the situation in their country. Pointing out that North Africa is also part of Africa. That Tunisia is also an African country. Denouncing this racism as being pure ignorance.

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