The words of Tunisian President Kais Saied with regard to migrants of sub-Saharan origin “have done a lot of harm”, judged Monday by the Secretary General of La Francophonie, Louise Mushikiwabo, saying she was “shocked” by the speech of the head of State.
“The Tunisian president’s remarks revolted many Africans, including myself, who am from sub-Saharan Africa and who has lived and worked in Tunisia,” Mushikiwabo, who is Rwandan, said on TV5monde.
“I had the opportunity to express my dissatisfaction with President Saied, said the head of the International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF), explaining that she had sent him “a long letter”. Ms Mushikiwabo had co-chaired with Mr Saied the last Francophonie summit in November 2022 in Djerba, a Tunisian island in the east of the country.
On February 21, Mr Saied claimed that the presence of “hordes” of illegal immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa was a source of “violence and crime” and was part of a “criminal enterprise” aimed at “changing the demographic composition” of the country.
Following these remarks, many immigrants were the target of attacks and hundreds of them asked their embassies to be repatriated to their countries. “We are not talking about hordes for humans”, exclaimed Louise Mushikiwabo.
“The fact that there is a problem of illegal immigration, it is normal for a Head of State to speak about it, but I found his remarks extremely shocking and I hope that we will try to clean up, but it hurt a lot,” she added.
Criticized by many NGOs, President Saied said his goal was to enforce “Tunisian legality regarding foreigners”. In an apparent concern for appeasement, he also declared that the Africans present in Tunisia were “brothers”, and his government announced measures in favor of students and sub-Saharan migrants.