Monday, January 14, 2013
Are Tunisians antisemites too?
Zied Touzani, a young engineering graduate and devout Muslim, is appalled at the rise of antisemitism in Tunisia since the Islamist party Ennahda came to power. Writing in Nawaat, one of the country's most popular blogs, he says antisemitic acts, such as the wrecking of two synagogues in Sfax (photo right) three months ago, are becoming almost commonplace.
"One cannot imagine people vandalising a mosque, yet many find it normal for a synagogue to be ransacked. The small Jewish community of Sfax cannot recall anything like this happening under Bourguiba or Ben Ali. Since Ennahda's arrival, these holy places have not been guarded, the police has been withdrawn and the sites are left to their own devices."
Touzani goes on to list other incidents of concern: the inciteful sermon by the imam of Rades 'induging in geopolitics', undersecretary for immigration Houcine Jaziri's attack on a meeting of the political opposition held in what he disparaged as a 'Tunisian Jew's hotel', the Shura Council's veto of the appointment of Rene Trabelsi, a Jew, as Tunisian Tourism minister.
He points out that Jewish culture has always been central to Tunisian identity. The Jewish star of David, for instance, can be found on Muslim tombstones (see photo above) - a symbol dating back to King Solomon and used 'to ward off djinns and evil spirits'. Georges Adda was a Jewish fighter for Tunisian independence and Gilbert Naccache spent 13 years in jail for opposing president Bourguiba.
Zied Touzani concludes as follows:
"It is important for the authorities to become aware of this problem and condemn these antisemitic acts, all too serious yet taken for granted. Anti-Zionism is understandable in view of the injustices suffered by the Palestinian people, but antisemitism must be fought against in our young democracy. It brings no honour to the new Tunisia. When will we see a senior figure of the Ennahda party visit a synagogue or Talmud Torah, an act of recognition for our sister community?"
Read blogpost in full (French)