Tunisian fishermen prevent anti-immigrant ship C-Star docking in North African coast

Tunisian port official: ‘Us let in racists here? Never’

Rachael Revesz
Monday 07 August 2017 16:25 BST
Fishermen gather, threatening to block off refuelling station for C-Star boat
Fishermen gather, threatening to block off refuelling station for C-Star boat (Getty)

Tunisian fishermen have stopped an anti-migrant boat from docking, claiming the activists are “racists” and endangering migrants’ lives.

The C-Star, chartered by alt-right French group Génération Identitaire, was not allowed to dock in Zarzis on the Tunisian coast.

The boat must now try another port further north as it reportedly needs supplies.

“It is the least we can do given what is happening out in the Mediterranean,” Chamseddine Bourassine, head of the local fishermen's organisation said.

“Muslims and Africans are dying.”

A port official who wished to remain anonymous said: “Us let in racists here? Never.”

Human right groups say any attempts to block migrant boats from docking in European ports or forcing them to turn back to Libya - as C-Star is attempting - could be illegal under international law, as well as potentially cause people to die at sea.

GI raised almost $200,000 to launch C-Star to “defend Europe” from migrants, and has documented its operation on social media, posting videos with interviews of the young, male crew members from Germany, France and Italy and other EU countries.

They were advised not to dock in Greece or Sicily for fear of protests. They briefly followed rescue boat Aquarius, operated by SOS Mediterranée, off the coast of Libya.

They claim they want to “save lives” but have also posted videos railing against migrants who, they believe, would destroy the “European” way of life.

The group argued that human traffickers are not working with governmental organisations and are smuggling people across the water for money.

The boat is draped with banners in English and Arabic that read, “You will not make Europe home!”

Last week the Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights objected to the C-Star docking in Tunisian ports and called on the government not to cooperate with its members.

More than 10,000 people have died while attempting to cross the Mediterranean in the last three years.

Amnesty International has recently accused the European Union of mostly leaving rescue operations up to charities.

Italian authorities have also threatened to block foreign boats which are bringing migrants to its ports after complaining that they were being forced to take on the majority of the burden without help from other EU countries.

Around 60,000 migrants have been taken to Italy since the start of 2014.

The anti-migrant C-Star movement has attracted the likes of former LBC radio presenter Katie Hopkins, who boarded the boat to try and block migrants on behalf of the Daily Mail last month.

She wrote in a 2015 column for the Sun that she would use “gunships” instead of deploying rescue boats to target “cockroaches” who wanted to cross the sea.

“No, I don’t care,” she said. “Show me pictures of coffins, show me bodies floating in water, play violins and show me skinny people looking sad. I still don’t care."

Agencies contributed to this report.

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