Clash Between Tunisian Residents and African Migrants Sparks Calls for Justice


In a tragic incident, a Tunisian man was stabbed to death during a scuffle between local residents and migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa in the coastal city of Sfax.

The funeral of the victim took place on Tuesday, where grieving Tunisian youths expressed their desire for justice and vengeance.

The incident has further intensified tensions that have been escalating in Sfax over the past few months.

Authorities have reported the arrest of three African migrants suspected of perpetrating the stabbing.

Faouzi Masmoudi, the spokesperson for the Sfax prosecutor, revealed that the victim, a man in his early 40s, lost his life on Monday night during a clash between Sfax residents and migrants. Although the suspects’ nationality is believed to be Cameroonian, further investigation is underway.

Sfax, the second-largest city in Tunisia, serves as a departure point for migrants seeking to reach Italy. As a result, the city has been grappling with mounting tensions.

On Sunday, clashes erupted between residents and migrants, prompting the police to deploy tear gas to disperse the confrontations.

The news of the man’s death rapidly spread after Tarek Mahdi, a member of parliament representing Sfax, shared a video on social media showcasing the victim’s lifeless body on the street, accompanied by a trail of blood.

The post garnered various reactions, some of which exhibited racist undertones and called for the expulsion of African migrants from Sfax.

During the victim’s funeral, captured in video footage published by an anti-illegal immigration group in Sfax, a group of young people passionately chanted, “We are going to avenge his death!” Clashes between migrants and residents have been reported in multiple districts of the city since then.

Following Monday’s killing, the interior ministry reinforced police and security presence in Sfax to maintain order and prevent further violence.

Sadly, racial tensions in Tunisia have previously led to fatal incidents.

In late May, authorities apprehended three individuals suspected of fatally stabbing a migrant from Benin.

The rise in racially motivated attacks on migrants and foreign students in Tunisia has been attributed, in part, to President Kais Saied’s comments made in February. President Saied accused “hordes” of illegal migrants of bringing violence, crime, and “unacceptable practices,” claiming there was a “criminal plot” to alter the country’s demographic makeup.

On Tuesday, President Saied visited the interior ministry in the capital, reiterating Tunisia’s stance against those who disrespect the nation’s laws or use it as a transit or resettlement destination.

Tunisia, with a population of 12 million, is currently home to approximately 21,000 migrants from various African countries, constituting a mere 0.2% of the population.

While some migrants arrive in Tunisia for educational purposes, many view the country as a starting point for their attempts to reach Europe via perilous sea routes, often targeting the Italian island of Lampedusa, located approximately 130 kilometers away.

Notably, Tunisians themselves have been joining the exodus in an attempt to escape their country’s economic crisis.

Tunisia, burdened with high debt and engaged in discussions for a bailout loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), has received funding offers from Europe to aid its efforts in combatting illegal migration and bolstering the economy.

President Saied has repeatedly rejected what he perceives as the “diktats” of the IMF, based in Washington, D.C.