Sub-Saharan migrants in Tunisia living in 'climate of fear' after surge in racist attacks

© Fethi Belaid, AFP

Hundreds of sub-Saharan migrants fled Tunisia on repatriation flights Saturday after a surge in racist attacks in the North African country following a controversial speech from President President Kais Saied. As tensions reach boiling point, FRANCE 24 talked to Patrick*, a Congolese student who decided to stay despite fearing for his safety.

“Right now, we are afraid to go out for a walk like we used to,” says Patrick*, a Congolese 29-year-old who arrived in Tunisia six months ago to study international business. In the past few weeks, attitudes in Tunisia have hardened towards people like him from sub-Saharan Africa.

Sub-Saharan migrants living in the North African country have long faced racial stigma, but in the wake of comments from Tunisian President Kais Saied on February 21 tensions have reached boiling point. In a hardline speech targeting illegal immigration the president called for “urgent measures” against “hordes of illegal immigrants” coming from sub-Saharan Africa who he blamed for bringing “violence, crimes and unacceptable deeds” to Tunisia.

Echoing the great replacement theory popular among some right-wing groups in Europe and the US, he said illegal immigration was the result of a “criminal plan … to change the demographic composition of Tunisia".

Read more on FRANCE 24 English

Read also:
Hundreds of West African migrants flee Tunisia after President Saied’s controversial crackdown
Guinea, Ivory Coast repatriate citizens from Tunisia
Tunisians take to the streets following President Saied's anti-migrant remarks