Tunisian President Kais Saied on Sunday rejected accusations of racism and warned perpetrators of racial attacks of legal consequences.
It came more than a week after he accused African migrants of being part of a conspiracy to change Tunisia’s demographic make-up amid a crackdown on migrants, sparking criticism by human rights groups.
Dozens of sub-Saharan African people have been subjected to detentions, abuse and evictions from their houses following the president’s remarks, rights groups have said.
On Sunday, protests were held in the capital calling for the release of arrested and detained opposition figures deemed critical of Mr Saied. The protesters also expressed their outrage against racism
Mr Saied has ruled the country by decree after dissolving parliament, dismissing the government and suspending the constitution in 2021.
On Sunday he said that the sources of the alleged racism campaign “are known” without elaborating.
He said Tunisia was an African country and “Africans are our brothers” while noting that the country was one of the founding states of the Organisation of African Unity which later became the African Union.
He also announced a relaxation of visa rules for African citizens.