Tunisian Jewish community targeted amid anti-government protests

Community members say school and synagogue attacked; no injuries.

January 10, 2018 10:12
1 minute read.
Tunisian protestors throw stones towards security forces in Tunis' Djebel Lahmer district

Tunisian protestors throw stones towards security forces in Tunis' Djebel Lahmer district early on January 10, 2018. (photo credit: SOFIENE HAMDAOUI / AFP)

The Jewish community of Djerba was targeted on Tuesday night, as violent anti-government protests raged elsewhere in the country.
Perez Trabelsi, the head of the local Jewish community, told Reuters that firebombs had been thrown at the Jewish school on the tourist resort island of Djerba, causing some damage but no injuries.

There were no protests in Djerba but locals said the assailants had exploited the fact that there was a reduced security presence as police were busy elsewhere combating anti-government protests around the country.

“Unknown people took the opportunity of the protests and threw Molotov cocktails into the lobby of a Jewish religious school in Djerba,” Trabelsi said.

Trabelsi’s son, Elie, an activist from the Djerba Jewish community who currently lives in France, told The Jerusalem Post that perpetrators had thrown Molotov cocktails through the roofs of a synagogue and another Jewish site that serves as both a house of prayer and as a school building. The two buildings, he said, are located in a Jewish village close to downtown Djerba. He said the damage caused was minimal and that thankfully there were no injuries.

“Security and civil protection are now doing their duty,” he wrote on Facebook.

During the time of the attack, violent clashes were raging in some 20 Tunisian cities as people protested against rising prices and new taxes imposed on January 1.
Tunisian protesters demonstrate against the government in Tunis, January 9, 2018. (REUTERS)

The main opposition party had hours earlier called for protests to continue until the government scrapped what it considered to be an unjust 2018 budget including price and tax hikes.

The primarily Muslim Tunisia has a Jewish minority of fewer than 1,800 people. Jews have lived in Tunisia for more than 2,000 years and Djerba is home to Africa’s oldest synagogue, El Ghriba, which was attacked in 2002 by al-Qaida-linked terrorists using a truck bomb that killed 21 people including Western tourists.

Elie Trabelsi told the Post that contrary to media reports that El Ghriba had been attacked Tuesday, the historic synagogue had not been touched. His father is the chairman of the synagogue’s board.

In an interview last year with a Tunisian radio station, Perez Trabelsi declared that Tunisian security was better than Israeli security, in response to an Israeli warning against travel to the country.

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