New Tunisia President Urges Return of Country's Jewish Population

Moncef Marzouk tells chief Tunisian rabbi that Jews are full citizens; Tunisia ousted longtime dictator Ben Ali in first of Arab Spring revolution.

Tunisia's newly elected president has called for the country's Jewish population to return.

The state news agency reported Monday that President Moncef Marzouk had told the country's Grand Rabbi Haim Bittan that Tunisia's Jews are full citizens.

Tunisia - Reuters - 17.12.2011
Tunisia's President Moncef Marzouki (C) addressing Tunisians during a ceremony marking the first anniversary of the Tunisian Revolution in Sidi Bouzid December 17, 2011. Reuters

Tunisia presently has a Jewish population of 1,500, but in the 1960s there were 100,000. Most left following the 1967 war between Israel and Arab countries and also due to government policy.

Marzouki also met with the top Christian and Muslim figures on Monday. He was elected last week.

Tunisians overthrew their longtime dictator President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January, with an Islamist party taking the most votes in the subsequent election.

The Islamists have formed a new government with two left wing parties.