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.

Following the remark, dozens of bewildered comments appeared on the Facebook page of Ettounisya, with some users speculating that El Jaziri conflated the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah with the Christian holiday.

The website of El Jaziri’s Renaissance Party, which is an Islamic movement and the country’s ruling party, says El Jaziri, 45, has studied philosophy in Tunisia, Morocco and France, where he obtained a master’s degree.

Tunisia had a Jewish population of 110,000 in 1948 but half of them left for Israel in the 1950s and most of the other half left for France. Currently, some 1,700 Jews live in the country, according to the European Jewish Congress.

Illustrative photo of a man dressed as Santa Claus with a Christmas tree, outside of Jaffa Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem. (photo credit: Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

Illustrative photo of a man dressed as Santa Claus with a Christmas tree, outside of Jaffa Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem. (photo credit: Yossi Zamir/Flash90)