Tunisians are African and Black: A Wake-up Call for Coexistence! Africans Facing Racism in Tunisia Because of a Firm Policy Against Undocumented Immigrants and a Misleading Speech.

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Abib, Sierra Leone’s immigrant helping a friend’s child while camping in front of UN building in Tunisia

Along with many of his friends and neighbors, Abib had to spend days and nights in front of the UN building (IOM).

A calm fancy neighborhood next to Tunis Lake turns into a refugee camp for many, they were using only a few black plastic bags and some blankets that were given by the locals.

Those immigrants did not come from far though, some of them just moved from their warm apartments in Cite Mansoura, Ariana which is hardly10 kilometers away.

A racist attack started on the night of February 21st, after a presidential speech during a National Security Council meeting, stating that there is a conspiracy that was set to change Tunisia’s demographic composition, by ‘allowing’ immigrants from sub-Saharan African countries.

These ‘Africans’ as Tunisians called them, were kicked out from their houses, in the worst way possible: attacked by a group of people at midnight even though their apartments were properly rented through an agreement with the owners.

“We paid for it”, said one of the immigrants. A government-organized campaign against undocumented black immigrants. The campaign was followed by a presidential speech that led eventually to this tragedy.

Imagine a group of people attacking the place you call home, a place you felt safe enough to put yourself to sleep under its roof, to have all your belonging stored in it, and to have all your cash hidden there too!

Those immigrants were undocumented, but most of them if not all are officially asylum seekers. They have actually been through the whole local administrative procedures to get themselves registered as an asylum seeker.

This out-of-control group which was said to be locals, from the hood was holding sticks and violently attacking Africans to get them out of their rented houses. Abib said “the landlord asked him to get out, he said he had orders to get all ‘blackout. “The government order them to chase all the black-out”

Abib lost his job for the same reason, Osman had his leg broken and beaten up, others are bruised and beaten, and Natasha lost her unborn baby. All this happens with no authority involved, and the only solution for them is to escape and leave all they have in those houses.

Most of the immigrants instantly called the police immediately but did not respond, and some of them got a response but the police never came. The fact that armed people attacked them and harmed them in an organized crime left them shocked. No one was there to support them, not even their neighbors.

The two main heartbreaking stories are Natasha and Osman: Natasha was just moved to Tunisia a month ago, to achieve a “new dream of a better, decent life.” She came through the desert, a long, tiring trip that she took for the sake of a better life for her unborn child.

All the way from Sierra Leone as well, dreaming of a shelter, a job, and of being a heroic single mother that would tell her child this one day to make him/her feel proud.

None of this was true for Natasha, as she also was attacked by thugs around midnight, which is the same time everyone in front of the UN was attacked. They violently beat Natasha along with others and she tragically lost her baby!

Osman was also beaten by this group’s stick! His leg was broken instantly, and what is worse is that people around Osman convinced him not to go to the hospital because he will be arrested since he is an undocumented immigrant.

The attack did not exclude anyone, clearly, this group had no time to check whether Africans were with or without documents, and a group of students was also kicked from their apartment.

Richard, the 27-year-old Student, was attacked and kicked out of his house.

Along with his roommate Erik and Youssef, Richard was also attacked on his own crib, losing all he got, including his phone and his saving. He said he “was running for his life” away from this group.

For a moment, I thought this group immigrants was protesting, to realize, that they were trying to get to safety; one of the immigrants told me, if he moves from this place one single step away, he will be attacked! Worst, “people actually came here and stoned us,” He added.

Osman standing in front of UN building

“I am Muslim,” said Osman, while leaning on his healthy leg, and trying to rest his untreated broken one!

National and international Media reached out to immigrants in different places to change the situation. Journalists and researchers who covered the story saw firsthand that misleading information led to a tragedy and victimized many innocent people.

National and international NGOs condemned the attack against immigrants, while the authority posted a statement defending itself as non-racist and providing several privileges to immigrants giving them a chance.

10 MARCH 2023 Amnesty international stated that “Tunisian authorities should ensure an immediate end to the wave of attacks against Black African migrants across Tunisia”.

A group of immigrants seeking safety in front of UN building. Tunis

Tunisian NGOs and groups who are aware of the importance of coexistence, are now constantly trying to run an anti-racism campaign, along with supporting immigrants with all necessary aid. People from all over Tunis keep bringing food and water, along with clothes to immigrants on the spot.

Tunisian citizens are also playing an important role, and supporting immigrants with basic needs, including food, and warm clothes, however, these immigrants need more assistance to survive this crisis after losing both their jobs and houses.

Imen Bliwa

Tunis, Tunisia


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