Tunisia plagued by demons of racism

It is far away, the time when Tunisia inspired its boundaries respect and admiration. Each passing week tarnishes a little more the image of this country which once shone with a singular flame in the Arab-Muslim world. What remains of the prestige conferred on him by his avant-garde status in matters of public freedoms, political pluralism, women’s rights and respect for minorities? The Head of State, Kaïs Saïed, who arranged full powers thanks to a coup in July 2021, now imposed on him a repressive, conservative and xenophobic turning point. Tunisia becomes unrecognizable.

In this case, everything is linked: the return to autocracy goes hand in hand with identity tension, the two feeding on an alleged “plot” against the State and the Fatherland. One of the most depressed illustrations in this regression is the recent wave of anti-black racism that shakes the country. In the wake of the February 21 declaration of President Saïed, who castigated “hordes of illegal migrants” associated with his eyes with a “criminal plan” aimed at “modifying the demographic composition” of the country breaking with his “Arabian affiliation -islamic “, hostility is unleashed against students and immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa.

They are victims of physical and verbal assaults every day in Tunis and other urban centers. The conspiracy discourse of the Head of State, with accents of the “great replacement” type, released a racism buried to the depths of Tunisian society, a legacy of slavery in North Africa, with lasting psychological sequelae.

embarrassment prevails

The eruption of this xenophobia endorsed at the highest level of the State has obscured the perception of Tunisia abroad. Mr. Saïed may have tried to nuance his words by specifying that he was aiming for immigrants in an irregular situation, the evil is done. His brigades of faithful, some of whom are affiliated with a Tunisian nationalist party with speeches and methods worthy of the European far right, track the sub -Saharan. The most progressive Tunisians admit their “shame” and try to organize in adversity an “anti -fascist” front. Constance also reigns in many capitals on the continent. The African Union “condemned” the “shocking statements” of President Saïed.

In European capitals, it is rather embarrassment that prevails. If the chancelleries do not fail to occasionally express their “concern” in the face of the decline in the rule of law in Tunisia, they did not react to the presidential charge against the sub -Saharan migrants. And for good reason: Mr. Saïed responds rather positively to the calls of Europe – first of all of Italy – to better lock its maritime borders in order to stem crossings of the Mediterranean.

The padlocking of “Europe fortress”, which contributes to fixing in North Africa candidates for European exile, is not unrelated to migratory tensions of which this region is the theater. Are we trying to spare Mr. Saïed to prevent him from “raising” on the surveillance of his coastline? If that was the ulterior motive, she would add cynicism to an already sufficiently dramatic file.

/Media reports cited above.