- The AU criticized Tunisia and advised it to refrain from racialized hate speech against migrants from other parts of the continent.
- Tunisia arrested 300 migrants in a single week after an identity check based on ethnic profiling.
- The AU Commission has summoned Tunisia's delegate for an urgent meeting to express concern over the form.
The African Union (AU) has criticized Tunisia and advised it to refrain from "racialized hate speech" following President Kais Saied's remarks about migrants from other parts of the continent.
President Saied stated that the entrance of sub-Saharan migrants was a part of a scheme to erode the nation's Arab Islamic identity, Tunisian President Kais Saied stirred up controversy both at home and abroad. According to the head of state, who was quoted in a statement from the Presidency of the Republic, "there is a criminal scheme to change the demographic landscape in Tunisia, and some persons have received enormous sums of money to give residence to sub-Saharan migrants."
At a national security council meeting held to discuss the issue, President Saied talked of "hordes of illegal migrants," whose presence in Tunisia he described as a source of "violence, criminality, and unpleasant deeds." He used language similar to the "great replacement" theory supported by the far right in France and other Western countries, insisting on "the need to quickly put an end" to this immigration and equating it with "a desire to make Tunisia just another African country and not a member of the Arab and Islamic world."
The AU Commission said that it had summoned Tunisia's delegate for an urgent meeting to express "great astonishment and concern" at the form and substance of the remarks on behalf of the continent-wide organization.
The terrible statement made by Tunisian authorities targeting fellow Africans, which violates both the spirit of our organization and its basic values, was severely condemned by the chair of the African Union Commission, H. E. Moussa Faki Mahamat.
The African Union emphasized Tunisia's responsibilities within the 55-member group. According to Faki, members of the AU have a duty to "treat all migrants with dignity, wherever they come from, stop racialized hate speech that could damage people, and prioritize their safety."
The AU statement surprised Tunisia's foreign ministry, which expressed surprise and condemned what it called "baseless accusations" that it claimed misrepresented the government's position.
Saied, who has gained almost total control since a dramatic July 2021 move against parliament, urged his national security council to take "urgent measures" to address irregular migration.
The French far-right lawmaker Eric Zemmour hailed Saied's remarks. He stated that "the countries of the Maghreb themselves are beginning to sound the alarm about the migration influx."Rights organizations in Tunisia claim Saied used hate speech.
Romdhane Ben Amor, spokesman for the Tunisian Federation for Economic and Social Rights (FTDES), stated that "it is a racist attitude, exactly as the campaigns in Europe." The goal of the presidential campaign is to divert Tunisians' attention away from their core issues by forging an imagined foe.
Those who accuse the president of racism, according to the president, "want division and strife and aim to harm our connections with our brothers." Saied asserted that he was not anti-immigrant and that people living legally in Tunisia had nothing to be afraid of.
More than 21,000 people from sub-Saharan African nations reside in Tunisia, which has a population of about 12 million, according to official statistics cited by the FTDES. The recent arrest campaign has instilled fear among black Tunisians and sub-Saharan Africans.
300 arrests in a single week
A number of human rights groups in Tunisia criticized the detention of 300 migrants in a single week. According to the statement, "They were arrested after an identity check based on ethnic profiling or even because they were present in court in support of their family."
The advent of the Tunisian Nationalist Party, an organization that just surfaced online and is pushing for the expulsion of sub-Saharan migrants via an online petition, has fueled the escalation of racist and hateful comments in recent weeks. Early in January, the movement's Facebook page had only a few thousand followers; as of now, it has more than 50,000. These concepts also appear to be becoming popular.