Six black African migrants have been stabbed in Tunisia, one of them to death, in a brutal gang attack between 22-23 May that was caught on video.
Seven Tunisians attacked 19 migrants in the Sfax area with knives and sabres, reports AFP, at a house where they were living in the El Haffara district.
The man who died was 30 and from Benin, according to court spokesman Faouzi Masmoudi. Three of the perpetrators, aged 17, 23 and 26, have been arrested.
Twenty-three NGOs, including the Tunisian League for Human Rights and the World Organisation Against Torture, have denounced the attack amid rising racism in the country:
“Hate speech and intimidation against migrants from sub-Saharan Africa disseminated on social networks contribute to mobilisation against the most vulnerable groups and fuel violent behaviour against them.”
They denounced “a climate of impunity” and “normalisation of violence” since President Kais Saied’s speech on 21 February this year.
In early March, racist attacks on hundreds of sub-Saharan Africans and black Tunisians took place across the country following a speech by Saied in which he claimed that immigration is a plot at changing Tunisia’s demography.
Saied ordered that security forces take “urgent measures” against “hordes” of undocumented sub-Saharan African migrants.
Armed mobs attacked their homes, many lost their jobs and housing overnight, women were threatened with sexual violence. Victims who were identified as having spoken to the press were arrested and detained.
Hundreds took to the streets of Tunis to denounce Saied’s racist remarks and hate speech, demanding that he apologise for his comments.
In 2021 Saied suspended parliament, dismissed the government, and set about cracking down on the opposition. African migrants were blamed for the shortage of food in the shops, and for stealing Tunisians’ jobs.
In 2018 Tunisia became the first country in the Middle East and North Africa region to pass legislation penalising racial discrimination yet civil society groups say is now not adhering to its own legislation.