World in View: ‘We are all Africans!’ vs. Tunisia state racism

March 21, 2023

From the March-April 2023 issue of News & Letters

by Eugene Walker

Demonstrators have taken to the streets of Tunis, capital of Tunisia, to protest President Kais Saied’s racist remarks against undocumented sub-Saharan immigrants changing the country’s culture. “We are all Africans” read one sign. Chants included: “No fear, no terror, the streets are for the people.”

“This is a land that should be open for everyone, and Tunisia should not be the police for any kind of borders, northern or southern,” stated one civil society activist. Tunisia is a major transit point for Africans seeking to leave for Europe.

This is only the latest authoritarian talk and action from Saied, who came to power as a so-called reformer, but instead has cracked down on any opposition and imposed a new Constitution that gives him almost total control and makes it impossible to impeach him. Opponents are designated as “traitors and terrorists.” Dozens of opposition figures have been arrested this month. Meanwhile there are food shortages and a gravely damaged economy. To turn attention away from his failures, Saied is turning to racism to shore up his authoritarian rule.

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