Chanting "No to racism." and holding placards hundreds of demonstrators marched through the streets of Tunis on Saturday (Feb. 25).
They denounced hate against migrants, days after the president claimed there was a plot to erase Tunisia's identity by bringing immigrants from sub-Saharan countries.
"After the speech of the President of the Republic, we recorded many escalations of racist attacks against refugees in sub-Saharan Africa," the spokesman of Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights revealed.
"These attacks consisted of attempts to expel migrants from their homes, ban (them from using) public transportation, and physical, racist attacks."
The protest was organised by the union of Tunisian Journalists and several non-governmental organisations.
During a national security council meeting, president Saied said measures were needed to address the illegal entry of sub-Saharan Africans who allegedly came with "with their lot of violence, crimes and unacceptable practices."
Actress Fatma Saidane hoped tensions would cool. "The situation must calm down, and we should not attack them, because they are our brothers, just as we do not want Tunisians who are illegal immigrants in Italy or France to be subjected to any racist treatment."
"We also do not want (migrants) in Tunisia to be treated that way.There are laws that apply without any infringement of their rights."
The African Union chairperson condemned shocking comments; which Tunis rejected, arguing its position had been misunderstood.