(JTA) — A Tunisian minister in charge of emigres wished a Merry Christmas to the country’s Jews.
“I want to wish all the Jews of Tunisia a happy holiday tonight, it is a big holiday all over the world,” Houcine El Jaziri, Tunisia’s state secretary for immigration and Tunisians living abroad, said while participating in the talk show "Attasia" on the Ettounisya network, which was aired on Dec. 31. He also wished the Jews a "milaad Majid," or Merry Christmas.
Dozens of bewildered comments appeared on Ettounisya’s Facebook page, with some users speculating that El Jaziri conflated the Jewish holiday of Chanukah with the Christian holiday.
The website of El Jaziri’s Renaissance Party, an Islamic movement and the country’s ruling party, says that El Jaziri, 45, studied philosophy in Tunisia, Morocco and France, where he obtained a master’s degree.
Some 1,700 Jews live in Tunisia, according to the European Jewish Congress. Tunisia had a Jewish population of 110,000 in 1948, but half left for Israel in the 1950s and most of the rest went to France.