Inside the Jewish community in Tunisia: family of Paris shooting victim speak out


One of the victims of the kosher supermarket shootings during the Paris attacks in January was Yoav Hattab, a 21-year-old Jew from Tunisia. His family are part of a Jewish community whose roots in the North African country go back many centuries but which has seen its numbers fall dramatically over the last 50 years. The dead man's elder brother, Avishay Hattab, has spoken at length to Mediapart's Pierre Puchot about how the family learnt of Yoav's death, at their dismay at the lack of official Tunisian government recognition of his murder, and of the difficulties in belonging to one of the last Jewish communities in the Arab world. Meanwhile an association that supports local minorities talks about the need to combat the “hatred” aimed at Jews in Tunisia. But Avishay Hattab says he is “proud” of being Tunisian and insists he has no intention of leaving a country his family has lived in for countless generations.

Reading articles is for subscribers only. Subscribe now.

It's Saturday evening and Avishay Hattab is sitting in the little hookah bar at La Goulette, Tunis's port, where he likes to go and sip his almond tea in front of the television. It has just got dark, the bar is deserted, and the young man slowly takes out his mobile phone to show Mediapart. “Look, I sent messages to Yoav on Whatsapp on Friday the 9th at 2pm [editor's note, the day of the kosher supermarket siege in Paris in January]. 'Yoav, where are you? Reply.' And another message: 'Well? Reply. Please don't frighten me.' Since his death I have sent him messages from time to time, to feel him, to have a sense that he is there. It's not easy.”