Tunisia’s parliament has approved a law to criminalise racist speech and incitement to hatred, in a move aimed at protecting the mainly Arab nation’s black population, AFP news agency reports.
“This is a very important turning point in the history of Tunisia, equivalent to the abolition of slavery,” the head of the Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights, Messaoud Romdhani, was quoted as saying.
“It’s a giant step, but there’s still a lot of work to be done to make this law a reality in a society where there is racism against the 10% of black Tunisians and sub-Saharan Africans who suffer from insults and sometimes violent attacks,” Romdhani added.
In August, a woman from Ivory Coast was assaulted after she responded to insults, AFP says.
Under the law, a person convicted of using racist language could be sentenced to a year in prison and fined about US $350.
The law was passed with the backing of 125 MPs. One voted against it and five abstained, AFP reports.