Tunisia Jews report harassment from protesters

Interior minister promises protection, local leader says.

By GIL STERN STERN SHEFLER
February 15, 2011 19:49
1 minute read.
calming tunisian riots

Tunisiariot311. (photo credit: AP)

The Jewish community of Tunisia filed an official complaint with Tunisian Interior Minister Fahrat Rajhi after several of its members were harassed by protesters last Friday outside a synagogue in the capital, Tunis.

“It was a small group of people on the way to the demonstration,” Roger Bismut, the leader of the Jewish community, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.

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“Passing before the synagogues, they said the prophet is coming back and the Jews should be careful, but they did not approach the synagogue because it’s very well-guarded.

They remained there seven, eight minutes, no more,” he recounted. “It’s a small thing, but I prefer to go to the interior minister.”

Rajhi responded to the complaint by publicly promising to protect the country’s estimated 1,200 Jews from harm, Bismut said.

At the same time, Bismut said the incident shouldn’t be blown out of proportion and that “in Europe and France, the UK and Germany, things like that happen several times every day.”

He said Tunisia’s Jews felt directly involved in the popular movement that brought about a regime change in the country last month and inspired Egyptians to follow suit and oust president Hosni Mubarak.

“Contrary to what people think, we, too – Jews – are part of the revolution,” Bismut said.

“It’s not only our last president who was a dictator, but the one before him,” he added, predicting that “it will take some time to fix Tunisia. The EU has helped, and the [United] States as well. I think we’ll make it, but it will take two to three years to recover, because many factories have been burnt down.”


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