Tunisian President Kais Saied’s speech on Tuesday about migrants from sub-Saharan Africa has been condemned as “racist” by several human rights organizations. The speech was made after a National Security Council meeting at the Carthage Palace where Saied emphasized the need to take “urgent measures” to stop the flow of “hordes of irregular immigrants” from sub-Saharan Africa because it leads to “violence and crimes.”
Tunisian human rights organizations such as the Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights and Mnemty have denounced the speech as inciting “hatred” against black immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa residing in Tunisia. Ramadan Bin Omar, the official spokesman for the Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights, described Saied’s speech as “steeped in racism and hate.” Bin Omar also accused Saied of “exploiting” the immigrant crisis to distract public opinion from economic and social issues and to “clearly and completely” obey the demands and pressures of the Italian authorities to control the flow of immigrants.
Groups that condemned President Kais Saied’s speech
The anti-racism organization Mnemty also condemned Saied’s speech and called on the Tunisian authorities to address “hate speech, discrimination and racism” on social media and other media outlets. On social media, reactions to the speech were divided between support and criticism. While human rights activist Mustafa Abdelkabir criticized Saied’s speech for not resembling Tunisia, far-right French politician Eric Zemmour praised it as a warning against the escalation of immigration.
Tunisia hosts around 21,000 immigrants, including students and legal residents, with most coming from Ivory Coast, Mali, Cameroon, Ghana, and Guinea. These immigrants work in simple and difficult jobs to earn enough money to pay for the hazardous journey across the Mediterranean to Italy. The speech by Saied has fuelled the migrant crisis, according to human rights organizations.
Image Credit: AP Photo/Slim Abid, file