NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania — A Mauritanian foreign affairs ministry official has resigned after calling a French anti-slavery activist a “Jew” in an anti-Semitic tweet.
The activist, Jean-Marc Pelenc from the NGO IRA France Mauritania, was turned away from the capital Nouakchott on January 10 in an incident the government later said was an error.
But Mariem Aouffa, a director in Mauritania’s foreign affairs ministry, tweeted her support for the move.
Aouffa called Pelenc “a Jew from [French satirical magazine] Charlie Hebdo, an enemy of the Muslim religion.”
The tweet, which was accompanied by a photo of the magazine, has since been deleted, although an AFP journalist saw it.
— KASSATAYA (@kassataya) January 13, 2020
On Tuesday, Aouffa tweeted that she had resigned, adding that her previous remarks did not represent the views of the government.
“I cannot fail to affirm my respect for all the peoples of the world and my respect for all their religions,” she said.
Mauritania’s foreign affairs ministry was not immediately available for comment.
However, a government official, who requested to remain anonymous, told AFP that Aouffa was forced to resign.
Mauritanie: Jean Marc Pelenc ordonné à retourner s’il le désire après son expulsion pic.twitter.com/ZR9WMChtjA
— Ely Aidara (@aidara_ely) January 11, 2020
The official did not say whether she would have been dismissed for the anti-Semitic nature of the tweet.
Anti-slavery NGO IRA France Mauritania on Monday accused Aouffa of “Judeophobia,” which it added was common in the West African country.
Mauritania abolished slavery in 1981 and then strengthened anti-slavery laws in 2015.
NGO Amnesty International estimated in a 2018 report that some 43,000 people remained enslaved, however.
Mauritanian Human Rights Commissioner Mohamed El Hassen Ould Boukhreiss said on Monday that the government’s decision to deny entry to Pelenc was was most likely an administrative mistake.