A black Tunisian woman’s testimony detailing her experience of an incident of extreme racial abuse on the streets of Tunis has gone viral on Facebook.
Within her post, Sabrine Ngoy a black Tunisian woman describes an incident of racial harassment on Habib Bourghiba Avenue in central Tunis yesterday.
In the Facebook post Sabrine describes how she and a “white” friend were verbally abused in central Tunis by a car driver shouting at her and calling her a “black whore.” As Ngoy and her friend approached the police to report the incident, the man followed them by car, hurling abuse continually and telling her that he had friends within the police, before getting out of the car and trying to “punch her in the face”.
Sabrine Ngoy described her experience of racism within Tunisia as long standing, saying, “Every day I hear insults and racial abuse from dawn till night since I was young. For how long will this go on?” She stressed the seriousness of the reality of every day racial abuse and violence saying “Today I was insulted on Habib Bourghiba. It could have been worse, it could have happened in a dark place and could have been very dangerous for me.” She emphasized the importance of speaking out about such attacks and the extent that racism exists within Tunisian society. “People end up hating the country, hating their own color, hating their life and even their own history Ngoy wrote, “because they become a victim. Maybe in the street, or at work or at school.”
In the post she asks, “Do I not have the right to walk down the street without being insulted and racially abused?”.
Speaking to Tunisia Live, the President of the Tunisian Association for Supporting Minorities, Yamina Thabet stated that Ngoy’s Facebook post was “very brave and it broke all the taboos… it exposed an unspoken topic.” Thabet continued, emphasizing that “racism in Tunisia is silent and Sabrine is among the citizens who had the courage to uncover the reality of a racist society.”
Tunisia has an estimated black population of 15% who currently have no protection from racial abuse under the law against racially motivated abuse and discrimination. In June a bill was drafted criminalizing racial abuse. Proposed by three main advocacy groups, EuroMed Rights, the Tunisian Forum for Social and Economic Rights, and the Committee for the Respect of Human Rights and Liberties in Tunisia. The final bill has yet to be heard in Parliament.