Tunisia: Parliament Adopts Anti-racism Law

Tunisia’s parliament on Tuesday adopted a law criminalizing racist speech, incitement to hatred and discrimination.
The legislation was approved, after a lengthy debate, with 125 members of parliament voting for it, one against and five abstaining.

The law was a response to the assault of an Ivorian on a Tunis street in July that triggered reaction online and denunciation from anti-racism associations.

Under the newly passed legislation, offenders can be jailed for one month and fined 1,000 dinars ($350, 300 euros) for using racist language.

Also, incitement to hatred, making racist threats, spreading and advocating racism, and belonging to an organization that supports discrimination are punishable by one to three years in prison and fines up to 3,000 dinars.

Tunisians of darker skin tones and other black Africans in the North African country face situations doubly depressing, as there is no law to punish racial discrimination, rights groups contend.

Thousands of students from sub-Saharan Africa attend Tunisian universities, and some face sporadic verbal or physical aggression because of their skin color.

Many Tunisians sometimes use pejorative terms such as a “kahlouch” and a “wassif” to identify a black person by the color of his skin.

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