Tunisia Foils Kidnap Plot Aimed at Jews

Four Arrested in Ransom Plot in Southern Town

By Reuters

Published November 01, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Tunisian police have arrested four people for allegedly plotting to kidnap local Jews for ransom, an official said on Thursday, stoking insecurity in the dwindling Jewish community after last year’s “Arab Spring” revolt led to a resurgence of Islamists.

There are less than 2,000 Jews in Tunisia, mostly living in the town of Zarzis and the nearby island of Djerba in the south of the country.

“The security forces intercepted a plan to kidnap young Jews in Zarzis. Police arrested four young men and seized two weapons,” the official, Lofi Hidouri, told Reuters.

Perez Trabelsi, head of the Jewish community in Djerba, said a policeman was among the four arrested.

“There is a big worry in Djerba and Zarzis. The government should provide us with more protection,” Trablesi said.

An “intimidation campaign” was underway to force Jews to leave, he said. “This our country, we will not leave it.”

As in other north African countries, the number of Jews living in Tunisia dwindled from tens of thousands after the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 prompted many to migrate to avoid possible Arab reprisals.

Islamists in the ruling Ennahda - which won elections after the overthrow of authoritarian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali last year - have met local Jewish leaders to reassure them that their rise to power would not hurt the Jewish community.

But with religious tensions growing in Tunisia - including clashes between hardline Salafists and police - the Jewish community remains anxious.

A few weeks after Ben Ali fled Tunisia, a synagogue in the city of Ghabes was set alight.

No one was hurt and the incident appeared to be isolated, but it revived memories of an al Qaeda attack in 2002 that killed 21 tourists after an explosive-laden truck blew up near a synagogue in Djerba.

An annual pilgrimage to Djerba, which attracts thousands of Sepharadic Jews from around the world, was cancelled in 2011 because visitors were reluctant to wade into the charged political environment of the Arab Spring.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Kosovo's centuries-old Jewish community is down to a few dozen. In a nation where the population is 90% Muslim, they are proud their past — and wonder why Israel won't recognize their state. http://jd.fo/h4wK0
  • Israelis are taking up the #IceBucketChallenge — with hummus.
  • In WWI, Jews fought for Britain. So why were they treated as outsiders?
  • According to a new poll, 75% of Israeli Jews oppose intermarriage.
  • Will Lubavitcher Rabbi Moshe Wiener be the next Met Council CEO?
  • Angelina Jolie changed everything — but not just for the better:
  • Prime Suspect? Prime Minister.
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.