Outrage as Tunisia envoy says Saied's 'Great Replacement isn't a theory - it's a reality'
A Tunisian diplomat from the Ivory Coast embassy told a local journalist that President Kais Saied's Great Replacement "isn’t a theory - it's a reality" in Tunisia.
Saied, an increasingly autocratic ruler, was condemned internationally last month when he parroted populist conspiracies that claim "illegal immigration" of Black Africans is a deliberate plot to change Tunisia's demographic composition.
The racist remarks sparked an upsurge of violence in the North African country, with young mobs attacking Black communities and pushing migrants from countries such as the Ivory Coast to decide to leave.
Dhour Elfakar ibn Ahmed, a senior diplomat at the Tunisia embassy in the Ivory Coast, said in a TV interview: "This is not a [race] theory. We are dealing with a factual situation. With figures. With growth rates of the movement."
"Networks that are involved in human trafficking, in organising clandestine migration, and therefore in crossing land borders illegally, and in the proliferation of irregular immigration."
Monica Marks, a professor of Middle East Politics at NYU Abu Dhabi, called the Tunisian diplomat's comments "jaw-dropping" on Twitter.
"Has the 21st Century witnessed a more blatantly racist exchange involving a diplomat? Genuine question," she said.
Marks' shared a clip from the Tunisian diplomat's interview with local journalists.
It was captioned with: "The government's strategy is clear: put out the fire with oil."
President Saied has assumed sweeping powers since taking office in 2019, with Tunisia sliding back to a system of one-man rule. He has recently launched an unprecedented crackdown on his political critics as well as entertainment personalities and journalists.
Amid surging inflation and unemployment, many see Saied's racist comments as a ploy to blame migrants for the country's ills rather than take personal responsibility for the economic crisis.
Up to 20,000 sub-Saharan Africans reside in Tunisia, many using the country as a launch pad for travel to Europe. However, European patrols mean thousands of migrants attempting the crossing are returned to Africa with no documentation and nowhere else to go.
Thousands more have died attempting the perilous journey across the sea, which has been blamed on EU policies.
Migrants, scapegoated by Saied's remarks, said they have been hounded on the streets by Tunisians and expelled from their homes, according to reports by CNN.