Arsonists attack Tunisian synagogue

By Jennifer Lipman, February 1, 2011

The security of Tunisia’s dwindling Jewish community has been called in to question following an arson attack on a synagogue in the south of the country.

Jewish communal leaders said vandals set fire to the synagogue in Tunisia’s southern Gabes region on Monday evening, damaging the Torah scrolls inside the building.

Trabelsi Perez, who also heads a community in Djerba which in 2002 was attacked by Al-Qaeda, told news agency AFP that the police had not done enough to prevent the attack.

He said: “What astonished me was that there were police not far from the synagogue.”

The incident is likely to raise concerns amongst Tunisian Jews, who have already expressed uncertainty about their future in the country following the popular uprising last month which ended President Zein el-Abbadin Bin Ali’s long rule.

Last month the Jewish Agency arranged for a group of 10 Tunisian Jews to move to Israel because of the unstable political situation.

Estimates put the country’s Jewish population at anywhere between 1,200 and 2,000.

Little more than 50 years ago, before Tunisia won independence from France, it was home to 100,000 Jews.

Last updated: 2:47pm, February 1 2011