(JNS.org) Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki visited a Jewish exhibition on the holiday of Purim this week and expressed his support for the Tunisian Jewish community.
About 1,500 Jews live in Tunisia today, a far cry from the 100,000 that lived there before Israel's Six-Day War in 1967, when the majority of Tunisian Jews left for the Jewish state. Nevertheless, Marzouki called Tunisia a “land of coexistence.”
“Let me reiterate that Tunisia is the land of peace, the land of coexistence, the land of brotherhood, a country that rejects all kinds of discrimination between its citizens—whether racial, religious, or sectarian. We are proud of all our Jewish citizens, who have played an important role in the history of this country,” Marzouki said, Israel National News reported.
“I always say that we have a shared and pluralistic identity in our country. The Arab-Islamic identity is the basis, but in our history there was a Jewish Tunisia, a Christian Tunisia, an Amazigh Tunisia, and Phoenician Tunisia... All these ‘Tunisians’ are part and parcel of our culture and civilization, and we should be proud of them. So, happy Purim, and thank you for this initiative. Carry on, and I wish you all success,” he added.
Tunisia's relations with Israel, however, are more fraught. The two countries do not have diplomatic relations. Most recently, Tunisia barred several Israeli tourists from entering its borders while a Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) ship was making a scheduled stop at the country. Tunisian officials claimed the Israelis did not have proper visa documents. Cruise line officials denied knowing of any such requirements. Subsequently, NCL announced the cancelation all of its stops in Tunisia and called the incident a "discriminatory act."