Black Africans have been moving from sub-Saharan Africa to Libya and to Tunisia, in the hopes of eventually making it to Europe. In those North African states, they are subject to racist abuse from the Arabs. In Libya, there are reports that some sub-Saharan Africans have been sold as slaves when they cannot pay their bills. These sub-Saharan Africans remain in Tunisia and Libya, working at whatever menial jobs are available, and living in squalor as they try to save up enough money to pay the Arab people-smugglers who will take them on small craft across the Mediterranean, leaving them off at the nearest European port at the Italian island of Lampedusa, or failing that, on the Italian mainland. It’s a hazardous voyage. Some boats sink, and many would-be migrants have drowned. Since so many of the boats are unseaworthy, and so often are overloaded with their human cargo, several NGOs have positioned their rescue boats along the routes to Europe these smuggling boats take from North Africa. Those rescue ships remain to answer the distress calls from the smugglers’ boats, and then they transfer the human cargo from the unseaworthy craft to their own. The NGO ships then bring those would-be migrants to Italian ports, where they must overcome other bureaucratic hurdles before being allowed into the country, their point of entry into Schengenland, and the cornucopia of benefits that the generous welfare states of Western Europe, they have been led to believe, will lavish upon them.
The Arabs in North Africa do not conceal their profound racism. They dislike black Africans, have no sympathy for them despite, or perhaps because of, their wretched state, and try to prevent them from entering their countries in the first place, or once they are there, leave them as soon as possible. The Tunisians have been even more disturbed by the influx of black Africans than the Libyans, who are preoccupied with their ongoing civil war. And now the Tunisian President has publicly promised to crack down on the “hordes” of sub-Saharan Africans who have illegally entered his country, and are responsible, he claims, for the increase in crime and violence. He has promised to put in place a series of measures to deal with this black immigrant “horde.” Social media in Tunisia is full of hair-raisingly racist comments supporting the expulsion of black Africans from the country. Some comments do not distinguish between the recent illegal immigrants and the black Africans who have lived in Tunisia for centuries. More on the plans of the Tunisian president to deal with this immigrant problem can be found here: “Tunisian president vows to crack down on ‘hordes’ of Sub-Saharan migrants committing ‘violence and crime’ in the country,” by Thomas Brooke, Remix News, February 22, 2023:
Tunisia will introduce a raft of “urgent measures” to crack down on illegal immigrants entering the country from Sub-Saharan Africa, President Kais Saied announced on Tuesday [Feb. 22].
After chairing a meeting of the country’s national security council, a press release from the president’s office revealed new measures would be introduced to restrict the number of new arrivals from the south of the continent, claiming newcomers were a source of “violence and crime.”
The statement expressed Saied’s devotion “to the urgent measures that must be taken to deal with the arrival in Tunisia of a large number of illegal migrants from sub-Saharan Africa.”
The Tunisian president, a former constitutional lawyer who took office in October 2019, didn’t hold back in his condemnation of new arrivals who he referred to as “hordes of illegal migrants” carrying out “violence, crimes, and unacceptable acts” across the country.
He claimed immigration waves from sub-Sahara were an attempt by a “criminal enterprise hatched at the dawn of this century to change the demographic composition of Tunisia.
This is where the Arab penchant for seeing conspiracies everywhere is revealed. There has been no plot “hatched” by people wanting to change the “demographic composition” of Tunisia. The black Africans did not come to Tunisia with the intention of remaining. They are as eager to leave Tunisia and head for Europe as the Tunisians are to see them leave their country. Though he does not say it, could President Saied possibly have in the back of his mind the notion of a plot hatched by that inveterate enemy of the Arabs – “the Jews”? Could they be the ones intending to turn Tunisia from an Arab-Muslim state into a “purely African country”? He need not spell out who is behind this. He knows that the West would regard such an idea as preposterous; he also knows that his veiled suggestion of a “criminal enterprise” to change the country’s demographic makeup would be found plausible by many Tunisians and other Arabs.
The undeclared goal of the successive waves of illegal immigration is to consider Tunisia a purely African country that has no affiliation to the Arab and Islamic nations,” he added.
The only goal of these “successive waves” of black Africans is to earn enough in Tunisia to pay the Arab human traffickers who will then take them by boat to Europe; the black Africans are as eager to leave the country as the Tunisians are to see them leave. The sub-Saharans don’t want to “take over” Tunisia or any other North African state. They have a very different goal: they want to receive the benefits that the generous welfare states of Europe provide.
The Tunisian president urged authorities “at all levels, diplomatic, security, and military” to help tackle the immigration wave and to strictly apply immigration laws against foreign nationals found in Tunisia.
“Those who are behind this phenomenon are trafficking in human beings while claiming to defend human rights,” Saied added.
The only human traffickers in Tunisia — ferrying black Africans to Europe for money — are themselves Arabs. They don’t talk about human rights. They just want to be paid, handsomely. “Human rights” are what European NGOs talk about, when they protest at how the black Africans are treated in Tunisia, or issue reports claiming that moving to another country, even one that quite clearly doesn’t want you, should be considered a “human right.”
As Africa’s northernmost country, Tunisia has long been considered an intermediary for economic migrants from the continent attempting to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe, and its port capital of Tunis has frequently been a departure location for migrant vessels destined for Italian islands like Lampedusa and Italy’s southern shoreline.
The remarks of the Tunisian president have sparked heavy criticism from human rights groups who believe such rhetoric will negatively impact the minority of Black Tunisians who comprise between 10-15 percent of the country’s population.
There are black Tunisians who have lived in the country for centuries. Will President Saied’s angry rhetoric, which is directed at those African blacks from sub-Saharan countries who have been entering his country illegally, bringing “violence and crime,” end up tarring with the same brush those black citizens? This is what the local human rights groups fear.
“It is a racist approach just like the campaigns in Europe,” Romdhane Ben Amor, spokesperson for the Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights, was quoted as saying by Reuters.
The “campaigns in Europe” directed at Muslim economic migrants are not “racist.” Islam is not a race. Blacks do constitute a race, and campaigns against black migrants, like the one the Tunisian president is planning, can qualify as “racist” if they are prompted not by hard data but by prejudice.
“The presidential campaign aims to create an imaginary enemy for Tunisians to distract them from their basic problems,” he [Romdhane Ben Amor] added.
A few days prior to Saied’s most recent remarks, a group of 20 Tunisian NGOs slammed the rise of “hate speech” and racism aimed at migrants in the country, accusing the presidential office of “turning a deaf ear to the rise of hateful and racist discourse on social networks and in certain media.”
Is the alarm expressed by President Saied, and by much of the Tunisian public, over the increase in “crime” and “violence” that they blame on illegal immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa really without foundation, exploited by the President as a way to distract the electorate from more important problems that he has been unable to solve? Or is President Saied justified in blaming the increase in “violence” and “crime” on these illegal sub-Saharan migrants? This can only be answered if we have the data about both the incidence, and severity, of “crimes” and “violence” in Tunisia, and about the racial makeup of those convicted of such crimes, and we have neither.