During the night of Monday to Tuesday, violent clashes between Sub-Saharan migrants and local populations intensified in Sfax in Tunisia. A Tunisian was killed in clashes with African migrants in Sfax in the center-east of the country, and port city and major economic center of the country. Tunisia’s second city in the center-east is where the tension is at its height and is also the starting point for a large number of illegal crossings to Italy.
On Monday evening, a house rented to sub-Saharans was burned down in the Bahri district of Sfax. Clashes in the “Al-Rabadh” district of the city of Sfax, between migrants and inhabitants of the region, caused many injuries and material damage and a certain number of cars were burned and destroyed, houses burned down.
Individuals masked with iron bars, throwing stones, in short the whole panoply of a manifest urban revolt characterized the night from Monday to Tuesday in Sfax and bear witness to the violence between Tunisians and Sub-Saharans. It took police intervention and tear gas to restore an uneasy calm.
The man, born in 1981, was fatally stabbed during clashes between residents of a district of Sfax and migrants from sub-Saharan Africa, said the spokesperson for the Sfax prosecutor’s office, ” Three sub-Saharans suspected of involvement in this murder and who would be of Cameroonian nationality, according to preliminary information, have been arrested “, he added.
Clashes with stone throwing had already pitted sub-Saharans against residents of Sfax on Sunday evening, during which vehicles and homes were damaged. The police used tear gas to put an end to the clashes. The inhabitants of Sfax regularly protest against the presence of sub-Saharans in an irregular situation and demand their departure. In the popular neighborhoods of the city where the migrants live, verbal and physical violence often breaks out between the two parties.
This violence had multiplied after the speech, to say the least tinged with racism, last February by President Kais Saied, who had condemned illegal immigration and presented it as a demographic threat to his country. Several local and international NGOs then rose up to denounce and condemn “the hate speech and discrimination and intimidation against migrants (from sub-Saharan Africa). The Tunisian President had attributed to the “illegal migrants” an alleged conspiracy “to change the composition of the demographic landscape in Tunisia”.
It was a green light given to the population to indulge in acts of violence, hunting down legal or illegal sub-Saharan migrants, many of whom (21,000) were evicted manu-militari from their homes. At the end of May, a 30-year-old Beninese migrant died, stabbed during an attack by a group of young Tunisians in a working-class neighborhood in Sfax.
That had been the spark that had increased racism in the city. The Sfaxiens in an umpteenth demonstration in front of the seat of the governorate demanded the intervention of the authorities to put an end to the migratory phenomenon and to expel the Sub-Saharans from the country. The situation had degenerated into a hunt for migrants from their homes, the attackers taking advantage of the laxity of the Tunisian authorities used force and violence with impunity.
Most migrants from sub-Saharan Africa come to Tunisia to then try to reach Europe by sea, landing clandestinely on the Italian coast. Sfax has long been known as a departure point for migrant boats trying to cross illegally to the Italian island of Lampedusa, located about 150 kilometers from the Tunisian coast. In 2023, more than 30,000 people have already reached the Italian island from the coasts of Sfax.