French Interior Minister in Maghreb to speak radicalisation

Tunisia, to which Paris wishes to expel about twenty Tunisians suspected of being radicalized, has said that it is ready to receive conditionally โ€œanyโ€ of its nationals, after a visit by French Interior Minister Gรฉrald Darmanin on Friday.

Mr Darmanin was due to present during his visit a list of Tunisian nationals in an irregular situation in France and suspected of being radicalized, a move he intends to repeat on Sunday in Algeria, according to his entourage.

Tunisia is โ€œready to receive any Tunisianโ€, Tunisian Interior Minister Taoufik Charfeddine told the press, after an interview with his French counterpart.

โ€œBut this must be done according to the conditions and regulationsโ€ provided for in international law and โ€œpreserving the dignity of Tunisian,โ€ he added.

The long-planned visit of Gerald Darmanin took a new turn with the attack that killed three people in the Basilica of Nice (south-east of France) at the end of October. The alleged perpetrator, Brahim Aouissaoui, seriously injured during his arrest, is a 21-year-old Tunisian who recently arrived in Europe.

It is difficult to know whether Mr. Aouissaoui became radicalised in Tunisia or after his arrival in Europe at the end of September, and whether the operation was planned before his departure. โ€œThe outcome of the Tunisian investigation will be decisive,โ€ a source close to the French investigation told AFP last week.

Gerald Darmanin, who began his tour in Italy on Friday morning, stressed from Rome that the fight โ€œagainst terrorism is the fight we are fighting against an ideologyโ€, called โ€œIslamistโ€. He called for โ€œa cultural fight against this ideology, its finance, its offices and its support abroad.โ€

โ€œIn the last 30 terrorists who hit French soil, 22 were French, only eight were foreigners,โ€ he stressed, believing that the โ€œdangerโ€ was โ€œalso and obviously above all endogenousโ€.

In addition to his Tunisian counterpart, Mr Darmanin also met with President Kais Saied, who assured that the Tunisian authorities โ€œwould try to find a solution to current and future obstaclesโ€ in relation to expulsion.

Increase in departures

This tour will continue in Malta, where Mr Darmanin wishes to discuss the reform of the European asylum and immigration system, before a visit to Algiers on Sunday, on security and combating irregular immigration.

This follows a visit to Morocco in October, in a context of rising clandestine departures from the Maghreb, fueled by youth unemployment and lack of political prospects.

Of the 231 foreigners in an irregular situation in France and followed for radicalisation, 70% are from the Maghreb and Russia, where the minister must also go โ€œin the coming daysโ€, said his entourage.

Concerning Tunisians, there are about 20 people convicted, under an obligation to leave the territory, and whose expulsion has so far been refused by Tunisia, which invokes restrictions related to the Covid-19 pandemic, it is said from French source.

The subject is controversial in Tunisia, where the possibility of a return to the country of Tunisians who joined jihadist groups in Syria triggered hostile demonstrations in 2016.

โ€œMake the machine go againโ€

โ€œTerrorists from France would soon be with us,โ€ worries the French-speaking daily Le Temps.

Several organisations, including the Tunisian League for Human Rights or the Forum for Economic and Social Rights, have lamented in a petition โ€œpolitical pressure against the Tunisian governmentโ€ by European governments that โ€œtake advantage of the fear of terrible crimes committed by terrorists to get rid of migrants without documents in defiance of law and justiceโ€.

Discussions also focused on ordinary evictions.

The aim is to โ€œreturn the machineโ€ of evictions to these countries, it is confirmed in the ministers entourage.

Darmanin must propose โ€œhealth protocolsโ€, as the process is influenza by restrictions related to the pandemic.

Mr. Charfeddine called for managing irregular migration not only safely, but by โ€œdevelopment, cultural and economic solutions.โ€

After a peak in departures in 2011, followed by a sharp fall, attempts at illegal emigration have increased again since 2017 and Tunisians are the most numerous this year among migrants arriving illegallyin Europe via Italy.