(GIN) –A campaign targeting Black migrants in the north African nation of Tunisia has escalated with misleading videos on social media. The African Union has responded by cancelling a major conference on illicit financial flows that was due to take place in in Tunisia this month.
The misleading videos repeated remarks by President Kais Saied, who called migration a “plot” to change the African country’s profile from Black to Arab, but according to Reality Check and BBC Monitoring, nearly all the videos that claim to show African migrants in Tunisia were actually filmed elsewhere: While the video purports to be filmed in Tunisia, a Senegalese flag can be seen and the language heard in Wolof, a Senegalese language.
One of the videos, which has had millions of views, reads in Arabic: “Tunisia under occupation.” Another says, “Tunisia has become the kingdom of Africans.”
There are an estimated 20,000 sub-Saharan migrants in Tunisia, which has a population of 12 million.
Tunisian rights researcher Kenza ben Azouz told the BBC: “This is not a matter of legality or illegality. It’s about being Black in this country.” Black Tunisians, who make up around 10–15% of the country’s population, suffer discrimination because of the color of their skin, she said.
Hundreds of people have protested In Tunis to denounce Saied’s speech, accusing him of racist comments against refugees, while Ivory Coast, Mali, and Guinea have begun repatriating their citizens from Tunisia.
Tunisia has rejected responsibility for the racial violence, saying it only sought to ensure “laws of the land are respected to avoid spreading chaos.”
According to Lawyers Without Borders, an advocacy group, approximately 800 sub-Saharan Africans have been arrested. Others have been evicted from homes they had rented, or have lost their jobs.