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Tunisia: Catholic Church calls on young people to give up ‘dream’ of emigration

August 16, 2023 at 1:36 pm

Ilario Antoniazzi, Roman Catholic Archbishop of the archdiocese of Tunis [FETHI BELAID/AFP via Getty Images]

The Italian Archbishop of the Catholic Church in Tunisia, Ilario Antoniazzi, has called on young people in the country to give up the “dream” of emigrating to Europe. The archbishop made his call in a speech during the celebrations at the Our Lady of Trapani procession, or the exit of the Madonna, on Tuesday evening, which was attended by hundreds of Christians and Muslims in La Goulette, near Tunis.

“Where are the youth?” asked Antoniazzi, who took up his post in 2013. “Do not emigrate to Italy. It is not the dream in your heads. I say this and I am Italian. Get rid of the idea of going to Italy and crossing the [Mediterranean] sea.” He concluded by saying, “Love your country… Your country is beautiful.”

The procession and its celebrations were first held in 1910 and then every year on 15 August until 1964. They were resumed in 2017. It is regarded as a symbol of religious coexistence in Tunisia.

Archbishop Antoniazzi’s plea followed the death of five Tunisians on Monday. They were drowned when a boat carrying 35 people, most of whom were from Tunisia, sank off the coast of Sfax governorate as they attempted to get to Europe.

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