In a dangerous move Tunisian president Kais Saied used a speech last week to attack black migrants from Africa. Saied, who has near-dictatorial powers, said, “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 that “hordes” of migrants were a source of “violence and crimes”. Far right politicians in Europe that have parroted similar lies as part of their “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory were quick to embrace his comment. The president raged against migrants from the rest of Africa seeking sanctuary in Tunisia, and those passing through on their way to Europe. But he also targeted black Tunisians who make up around 15 percent of the population.
It was a crude attempt to “divide and rule” a country still gripped by years of economic crisis. Saied’s hate speech came as a campaign of arrests spread fear among sub-Saharan Africans as well as black Tunisians. The normally conservative African Union was forced to issue a sharp rebuke.
But some of the strongest responses came from Tunisians themselves. Hundreds took to the streets of the capital Tunis in anger at the statement. Tunisian comedian Fatma Saidane said, “We must not assault or insult people who live on our soil in the same way we don’t accept our compatriots to be ill-treated in Europe.”
Workers mobilise in France
Working class activists in France are gearing up for a general strike and huge demonstrations on Tuesday of next week. Millions of people surged onto the streets during five days of action in January and February and that’s been combined with mass strikes. But president Emmanuel Macron is pressing ahead with attacks on pensions and is determined to make workers pay for the economic crisis.
The union leaders call for more action than their British counterparts. But they are still confining and holding back the fullest development of the struggle. In response, rank and file workers—and sometimes whole union sections—are pushing to extend their strikes beyond 7 March.
“The argument is hot and important because you can feel the chance for a historic win that would change things in a big way for the future. But there’s the terrible possibility of falling short, as has happened again and again in the last 20 years,” teaching union activist Cedric B told Socialist Worker.
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