ALICES ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND
THROUGH THE LOOKING-GLASS
””De tijd is daar
Om over allerlei te praten”
VERTAALD UIT HET ENGELS
””The time has come,” the Walrus said,
—Through the Looking-Glass”
WIKIPEDIATHE WALRUS AND THE CARPENTER
ZIE NOOT 2
RUTTE ZONDAG OPNIEUW NAAR TUNESIE MET
MELONI EN VON DER LEYEN
Demissionair premier Mark Rutte gaat zondag opnieuw naar Tunesië, samen met de Italiaanse premier Giorgia Meloni en Europees Commissievoorzitter Ursula von der Leyen. In de hoofdstad Tunis ontmoeten zij president Kais Saied om “verder te werken” aan de migratiedeal die de EU met Tunesië wil sluiten, aldus een woordvoerder van de commissie.
Het beoogde migratieakkoord met het Noord-Afrikaanse land, dat in ruil voor 900 miljoen euro steun de clandestiene oversteek van migranten zou moeten tegenhouden, heeft vertraging opgelopen. Het land krijgt nu al 150 miljoen euro om de eerste problemen op te lossen.
Op 11 juni reisden Rutte, Meloni en Von der Leyen voor het eerst samen naar Tunis. Bij terugkeer zei Rutte dat ze met de onderhandelingen “verder zijn gekomen” dan hij eerder inschatte. Ze hoopten overeenstemming te vinden voor de EU-top van eind juni maar dat lukte niet.
Een probleem is dat een groot deel van het EU-geld, in de vorm van leningen, is gekoppeld aan een hervormingsprogramma van 1,9 miljard dollar van het Internationaal Monetair Fonds (IMF). Daar maakt Saied volgens ingewijden bezwaar tegen. Over de besteding van 105 miljoen euro die de EU biedt om Tunesië te helpen bij het beheren van zijn grenzen en het terugsturen van illegale migranten (van de EU naar Tunesië en van daar naar derde landen) wordt volgens betrokkenen ook nog onderhandeld.
Volgens Von der Leyen moet “ons huidige initiatief met Tunesië als blauwdruk dienen voor soortgelijke partnerschappen in de toekomst” met andere landen. De EU zoekt naarstig naar oplossingen om de migrantenstroom in te dammen en de strijd tegen migrantensmokkel op te voeren, en ziet veel in samenwerking met bij migranten populaire vertreklanden als Tunesië.
TUNESIAN PRESIDENT SAYS MIGRATION TO
TUNESIA AIMED AT CHANGING DEMOGRAPHY
22 FENRUARY 2023
TUNIS, Feb 21 (Reuters) – Tunisia’s President Kais Saied denounced undocumented sub-Saharan African immigration to his country on Tuesday, saying in comments criticised by rights groups that it was aimed at changing Tunisia’s demographic make-up.
Speaking in a meeting with the National Security Council in comments the presidency later published online, Saied said the influx of irregular migrants to Tunisia must quickly be ended.
“The undeclared goal of the successive waves of illegal immigration is to consider Tunisia a purely African country that has no affiliation to the Arab and Islamic nations,” he said.
Tunisian rights group, which had this week already condemned what they call hate speech directed at African migrants, said Saied’s comments were racist.
“It is a racist approach just like the campaigns in Europe… the presidential campaign aims to create an imaginary enemy for Tunisians to distract them from their basic problems,” said Ramadan Ben Amor, spokesperson for the Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights.
Tunisia is a major transit point for migrants and refugees seeking to cross the Mediterranean to Europe, including growing numbers of both Tunisians and people from other African countries.
Recent social media campaigns in Tunisia have urged authorities to stop African migrants travelling through Tunisia on their way to Europe or settling in the country, as thousands have done.
Tunisian authorities have this month cracked down on migrants, detaining dozens of them.
Saied said in his comments that parties, whom he did not name, had over the past decade settled African migrants in Tunisia in return for money.
Black Tunisians have a long history in the country, making up 10% to 15% of the population, and rights groups have said the country has not done enough to address racism.
The president is engaged in an escalating confrontation with critics who accuse him of a coup for shutting down parliament and seizing most powers in 2021, and police have this month detained many leading opposition figures.
Saied has said his actions were legal and necessary to save Tunisia from chaos.
Reporting by Tarek Amara; Writing by Angus McDowall; Editing by Josie Kao
END OF REUTERS ARTICLE
TUNESIA’S PRESIDENT CALLS FOR HALT TO
SUB-SAHARAN IMMIGRATION AMID
CRACKDOWN ON OPPOSITION
Kais Saied claims migrants are part of campaign to make country ‘purely African’ in move critics say is to distract from economic crisis
Tunisia’s president, Kais Saied, has told a meeting of security officials that migrants are part of a wider campaign to change the demographic makeup of the country and make it “purely African”.
The president’s comments come alongside an extensive crackdown on critics and opposition figures in a campaign that human rights groups, including Amnesty International, have labelled a witch-hunt.
Addressing Tunisia’s national security council on Tuesday, Saied called for urgent action to halt the flow of sub-Saharan migrants into the country. “The undeclared goal of the successive waves of illegal immigration is to consider Tunisia a purely African country that has no affiliation to the Arab and Islamic nations,” he said, going on to accuse unnamed parties of complicity in a “criminal arrangement made since the beginning of this century to alter the demographic structure of Tunisia”.
Saied’s speech has sparked alarm in a country that prides itself on being welcoming to foreigners.
A public meeting on Wednesday night in Tunis, called in response to the president’s comments, heard testimonies from migrant families being evicted from their homes, children in nurseries being seized by officials and raids on entire neighbourhoods. Many migrants have also reported not venturing outdoors for days for fear of arrest or detention.
Outside the meeting, where participants had spilled out into the corridor, Saadia Mosbah, president of the anti-racism association Mnemty, said: “We are Tunisians and the security of Tunisia and its sustainability is our business, too”
Aesat, Tunisia’s largest union for sub-Saharan students, also issued a statement, calling on members to leave their houses only when necessary and to carry documentation.
The little-known Nationalist party has been campaigning in recent weeks for the authorities to identify and expel undocumented migrants from the country. The message was gaining momentum before being adopted by the president.
Saied’s rhetoric around demographic change has little historical grounding in Tunisia, though it has won him praise from the French far-right politician Éric Zemmour.
“It is a racist approach, just like the campaigns in Europe,” Romdhane Ben Amor, spokesperson for the Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights (FTDES), was reported as saying by Reuters. “The presidential campaign aims to create an imaginary enemy for Tunisians to distract them from their basic problems,” he said.
Tunisia’s vulnerable migrant community is the target for Saied, who has labelled his opponents traitors and terrorists, and on several occasions has accused critics of conspiring to assassinate him.
As well as more than a dozen opponents detained over the past two weeks, police are also reported to have arrested two other critics of the president: the leader of the Republican party and prominent opposition figure Issam Chebbi and Chaima Issa, an activist who took part in the 2011 revolution. Police are searching for a further opponent, Jaouhar Ben M’barek.
Many observers see the president’s campaign as an attempt to distract people from the problems of daily life and the state of the Tunisian economy and to deflect anger from his own role since he suspended the country’s fractious parliament in July 2021.
Many staple foodstuffs, such as coffee, sugar and rice – all subsidised by the government – have largely vanished from supermarkets as the government struggles to pay subsidies. Meanwhile, Saied’s relations with Tunisia’s powerful general trade union, the UGTT – not helped by his deportation of the head of the European Trade Union Confederation, Esther Lynch, who was speaking at one of its rallies – have become strained as the president and his cabinet, who are negotiating a fresh IMF bailout, consider ending energy and food subsidies, which is likely to hit the poorest workers hard.
Despite the government’s increasingly draconian rule, Tunisia’s opposition remains splintered. On 14 January, anniversary of the ousting of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali during the 2011 revolution, there were also protests against Saied’s rule in the centre of the capital, Tunis, and its outskirts.
END OF THE ARTICLE
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
TROUBLE IN TUNISIA
In today’s Daily Brief: The Old “Find a Scapegoat” Trick in Tunisia Institutionalized Children under Russian Invasion “Navalny” Wins Oscar Take Note: Other Key Stories Quote of the Day: North Korea
13 MARCH 2023
Trouble in Tunisia
It sounded like the fear-fostering fantasies of far-right fanatics in Europe.
It spoke of a “criminal plan” afoot to alter the country’s “demographic make-up” through “successive waves of irregular migration.”
But this time, the words came from Tunisian President Kais Saied – and they have sparked havoc in the country.
Following Saied’s racist, conspiracy-minded language in a speech on February 21, Tunisia has suffered a wave of attacks against Black Africans. There’s been a surge in violent assaults, robberies, and vandalism by Tunisian citizens against them.
Police are arresting Black Africans for no reason. Landlords are kicking them out, and employers are firing them.
Scores of Black African foreigners, asylum seekers, and refugees – many suddenly homeless – are now camping in front of international organizations’ offices in the hope it might be safer. Others avoid venturing outside as much as possible.
That Saied’s language was politically irresponsible is obvious. And as with other cases, notably in Europe and the US, when politicians spout this kind of racist “great replacement” conspiracy nonsense about foreigners supposedly taking over, the claims are not connected to reality.
Tunisia is a country of 12 million with a miniscule 21,000 Black Africans.
Amnesty International said President Saied was, “finding scapegoats for Tunisia’s economic and political woes.” It’s also possible he’s trying to distract public attention from his power grab, which we’ve previously discussed in this newsletter.
In any case, nothing the presidency has done since the inflammatory speech will reverse the country’s dangerous course. Authorities have not condemned the criminal assaults nor instructed security forces to protect those at risk.
Most critically, they are not pushing prosecutors to hold perpetrators accountable. Throughout the wave of assaults, the authorities have announced only one arrest.
All this will only embolden potential attackers.