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Thursday, September 8, 2016

Tunisian Blacks are a “Silent Minority” who Suffer “Social Isolation”.


Part of the speakers of ADAM Association seminar on Black TunisiansTunisians from all social categories gathered in gathered in Maison de la Culture Ibn Khaldoun, in downtown Tunis on June 12 to attend “Blacks in Tunisia: We Are All Tunisians. We are Children of Adam.” The event was organized by the first Tunisian black association called “ADAM Association for Equality and Development.”The conference is the first of its kind in Tunisian modern history to address the issues surrounding the black community. The history and challenges met by the community include denial of their role in Tunisian society, a lack of recognition, discrimination and racism.The speakers at the conference discussed ways of addressing the issue of racial discrimination in Tunisian society. Chawki Tbib, the head of the Tunisian Lawyers Association urged black Tunisians to report about racist incidents or discriminatory acts against them to any Tunisian lawyer.ADAM reiterated its support for the upholding of fairness and development among Tunisians irrespective of race. They strive to work towards achieving the equality of black Tunisians with their “white Tunisian” counterparts.Taoufik Chairi, chairman of ADAM, highlighted the need for the recognition of blacks in Tunisian culture and society.Chaouki Tbib, the head of the Tunisian Lawyers Association and president of the Tunisian Association for Citizenship admitted the presence of racism against blacks in Tunisia. “Racism is pervasive in Tunisian society: it exists in our jokes, traditions, dance, customs and even the refusal of mixed-race marriages,” Tbib stressed.On the other hand, Tunisia has an official history of working against racial discrimination. In January of 1846, Tunisia abolished slavery, becoming the first Arab nation to take the step. Tunisia has also signed international treaties to combat racism, particularly the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Fight Against all Types of Racial Discrimination in 1948. In 1958, Tunisia signed an agreement criminalizing racial discrimination.“Tunisian law does not discriminate between Tunisians on the basis of race,” Tbib said.Tbib went on to urge black Tunisians as civil society members to be more active in cases of racial discrimination by reporting any racial incident to a human rights association, organization or lawyer. He also warned of the danger of “the trivialization of racism and racial discrimination in Tunisian society” and suggested committees to defend black Tunisians in the same vein as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in the USA and SOS Racisme in France.Abdelhamid Larguèche, a Tunisian historian who worked extensively on the black presence in Tunisia also spoke. Larguèche co-authored the Tozeur Declaration in 2009  with Martinique poet and philosopher Edouard Glissant, and Salah Trabelsi, a French-Tunisian historian based in France. The book condemns slavery in the Arab and Muslim world and remembers the dark past of Arab and Muslim countries, who were involved

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