Tunisia Jews: Caught between Salafists’ threats and authorities’ indifference

‘Outcasts’ in their country

TUNIS - Tunisia's religious affairs ministry and several political parties Tuesday denounced anti-Semitic slogans chanted at a weekend protest demanding the imposition of sharia, or Islamic law.
"The call to fight against the Jews is absurd. The ministry rejects this attack against all Tunisian citizen," it said in a statement, stressing that "Tunisian Jews are full citizens".
Tunisia -- a Muslim majority country of more than 10 million -- is home to a Jewish minority of about 1,500.
The threats were made at a rally in Tunis on Sunday demanding that sharia become the main source of legislation in the new constitution currently being drafted, media reports said.
A similar incident took place in January during a visit to Tunisia by Palestinian Hamas leader Ismail Haniya.
This is the first time in Tunisia that the incitement to kill Jews happens “on the public highway in broad daylight”, activists said on Facebook.
They condemned the indifference of the Tunisian Ministry of the Interior, headed by Ali Laarayedh, one of the leaders of the ruling Ennahda party, to the "unrestrained behaviour of the Salafis." They also warned against the targeting of Tunisia's Jews with “terrorist attacks”.
The leftist Ettajdid party in a statement also condemned "the calls to violence, hatred and even murder from fanatical Salafi groups that have again targeted citizens of the Jewish faith".
Ettakatol, a junior partner in the governing coalition led by Islamist party Ennahda, voiced similar sentiment.
"These are unacceptable slogans and we reiterate our solidarity with the Jewish community", its spokesman Mohamed Bennour said.
The presidency of the National Constituent Assembly voiced its "deep concern" and denounced the "slogans aimed at sowing discord within the Tunisian society of all races and backgrounds."
The leader of the Ennahda party, Rached Ghannouchi, on Monday vowed that "Tunisia guarantees the rights of all citizens. We defend all minorities including the Jewish minority".
The representative of the Jewish community, Roger Bismuth, was received Tuesday by Speaker Mustapha Ben Jafar.
"I told him that what happened has consequences both inside Tunisia and abroad. We need tourism, the season is starting and what happened is not good for tourism," Bismuth said on radio Mosaique.