Tunisia MP holds up 'racist anti-African migrant sign' during parliament session

Tunisia MP holds up 'racist anti-African migrant sign' during parliament session
3 min read
28 July, 2023
In a further sign of the growing problem of anti-African racism in Tunisia, a MP held aloft a sign claiming African migrants are part of a plan to destroy the country.
African migrants are facing increasingly inhumane treatment in Kais Saied's Tunisia [Getty]

A Tunisian MP on Wednesday held up a sign claiming that African migrants were part of a "plan to destroy the state" as the country's interior minister addressed parliament on migration.

Minal Bidda, MP for the Mediterranean port city of Sfax, held aloft the sign slamming African migrants - who often travel to the Tunisian coast hoping to reach Europe - as the country's interior minister spoke during a special session.

The MP also posted a video on Facebook claiming that Tunisia was being "swarmed by Africans" who she alleges are creating "chaos".

Such comments have been slammed by rights groups as enflaming hatred against migrants in Tunisia, some of whom have been assaulted.

She claimed her home city of Sfax was being "overwhelmed" by African migrants, causing "security problems".

Bidda called for local governments to be handed greater powers to deal with immigration from African countries, citing funding and infrastructure problems.

"Africans are a step towards the destruction of the country… the African problem is either a file that is too big for the government to handle or the government is not taking it seriously," she said.

During the session, Tunisian Interior Minister Kamal Feki denied that authorities had dumped hundreds of African migrants in the Sahara near the border with Libya.

Rights groups have presented extensive documentation on the issue - including photos of stranded migrants - which Feki claims had been manufactured. 

Racist incitement from the top

Tunisia has openly espoused conspiracy theories on the issue of migration, including the so-called 'great replacement theory', which has been espoused by white supremacists in Europe and North America.

In an address to his National Security Council in February of this year, President Kais Saied claimed: "There is a criminal arrangement that has been prepared since the beginning of this century to change the demographic composition of Tunisia."

He then alleged that people traffickers were being paid by shadowy forces to bring "sub-Saharan" migrants to Tunisia.

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The UN and rights groups have said that migrants in Tunisia face extreme heat, a lack of shelter, limited access to food or water, and a host of other inhumane conditions.

There have been reports of a wave of racist violence against African migrants in cities such as Sfax, which activists have linked to the government's rhetoric on the issue.

Tunisians have taken to social media to slam Bidda's comments.