Tunisian President Kais Saied expressed his “astonishment” at “the positions in which accusations of anti-Semitism were made against Tunisia,” without specifying a specific party. In support of his statements, he referred to legal texts guaranteeing freedom of worship and the rights of minorities in Tunisia, particularly Jews.
Tunisian President Kais Saied on Friday denied any allegations of state anti-Semitism, after a policeman carried out a deadly shooting outside a synagogue on the island of Djerba.
The attack occurred on Tuesday evening at a time when hundreds of Jews completed the annual pilgrimage to the Ghriba synagogue, the oldest in Africa. Three policemen and two pilgrims – one of whom had dual Tunisian-Israeli nationalities and the other a French-Tunisian – were shot dead by the attacker before the security forces shot him dead.
The Tunisian authorities condemned the “criminal” attack, but refrained from describing it as “terrorism” or giving it an anti-Semitic dimension. But in France, of which one of the victims holds the nationality, the national anti-terrorism prosecutor’s office opened on Wednesday “an investigation for murder in connection with a terrorist group.”
On Wednesday, French President Emmanuel Macron vowed to combat “anti-Semitism”, saying: “Always, tirelessly, we will fight anti-Semitism.” Macron added in a tweet, saying: “The attack on the Ghriba synagogue worries us. We think with pain of the victims, of the Tunisian people, of our friends. We stand by the family of our murdered compatriot.”
Speaking about the attack during a meeting with Prime Minister Naglaa Boudin and a number of ministers, Saied stressed that Tunisia “will remain safe despite the desperate attempts to undermine its stability,” according to a statement issued by the Presidency of the Republic.
The Tunisian president thanked the countries “that declared their sympathy with the Tunisian people” after the attack, but stressed “the rejection of any foreign interference because the sovereignty of Tunisia and the sovereignty of the people inside the homeland are two lines that no party can cross.”
Qais Saeed also expressed his “astonishment” at “the situations in which accusations of anti-Semitism were made against Tunisia,” without specifying a specific party. In support of his statements, he referred to legal texts guaranteeing freedom of worship and the rights of minorities in Tunisia, particularly Jews. Visiting Ghriba is a tradition for Tunisian Jews, who number just 1,500, compared to 100 before independence in 1956.