Tunisia: Misleading and racist content goes viral on social media leading to attacks on migrants

Facing attacks and discrimination, sub-Saharan African migrants are fleeing Tunisia, just weeks after controversial comments by President Kais Saied.

The Tunisian leader said migration was a “conspiracy” to change the country’s identity, also known as the white-nationalist “great replacement” conspiracy theory. He denies his comment was racist.

Countries such as Ivory Coast and Guinea have begun repatriating their nationals due to fears for their safety, after migrants have been attacked on the streets and even evicted from their homes or fired from their jobs.

On social media, hate speech and misinformation have proliferated. The Cube has looked closer at some of these misleading claims. 

How many migrants are there in Tunisia?

One claim frequently pushed by news outlets and social media accounts is that there are more than 700,000 Sub-Saharan African migrants in the country.

But according to the Tunisian Statistical Institute on Migration the number is much lower. Out of approximately 58,000 immigrants about 21,000 are from sub-Saharan Africa.

This exaggerated number has spread to Moroccan and Egyptian social media pages and groups.

Social media users have started calling for the preservation of Moroccan and Egyptian identities, fearful migrants will erase their Islamic and Arab heritage.  

One video found by Euronews on Twitter shows how social media users criticised Moroccan women who  married sub-Saharan Africans. 

Similar posts were seen in Egypt echoing a fear that immigrants will change the country’s demographic profile.

Black citizens in Tunisia fire back

This wave of discrimination  pushed Black citizens to slam the harassment and violence they claim to experience in Tunisia.

Many Black Tunisians say they’ve been mistaken for undocumented migrants and physically or verbally attacked.

In response, a social media campaign was launched with people posing with their Tunisian IDs along with the hashtag “my papers on me, just in case.”

Kais Saeid’s comments provoked anger in certain sub-Saharan African countries calling for retaliatory measures against Tunisian immigrants.

One video on Twitter claims to show a Tunisian citizen arrested and kicked out of Guinea. The text on the bottom half says “Bravo to the Guinean government for the immediate repatriation of all Tunisians.”

But after doing an image reverse search, The Cube found the video dates back to April 2022 and has nothing to do with the current events in Tunisia. 

The man arrested is from Spain, not Tunisia. He’s being led away by police in Ivory Coast for trafficking narcotics. 

Meanwhile, The World Bank has paused talks over its future engagement with Tunisia, while the EU warned the country against hate speech targeting people fleeing conflict and poverty.


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