The brutal murder of a gay Italian national known as Angelo in Hammamet, a resort town in northeast Tunisia, was brought to light by a fevered account on Facebook by his friend Martine Costa.
In her post, Costa claims Angelo cried for help at 2 a.m. on August 1, but his plea went unanswered because he was gay. Costa goes on to describe a neighbor who heard Angelo’s cry only to continue eating his bowl of soup just a few feet from the man’s murder.
The next day, Costa writes, the townspeople spoke as if Angelo deserved to die because of his homosexuality and children laughed at the tragedy, leading Costa to ask that if they laugh now at seven, will they become murders by 20?
Angelo was reportedly stabbed 10 times by a local 20-year-old unemployed man with whom he had spent several nights on the town. They spent the night together at Angelo’s before an argument erupted between them prior to Angelo’s murder. Police picked up the assailant within the hour of the crime, still in possession of his victim’s money and belongings.
Costa’s Facebook missive has been shared over 1200 times and has over 200 comments, many expressing condolences and horror with others calling into question the veracity of her claims of homophobia in Tunisia and in the Islamic community.
However, a Tunisian blogger and editor for Gay Middle East spoke to Gay Star News about the current political and social climate in the region. “The situation from the perspective of human rights in general and LGBT rights in particular is getting worse in Tunisia,” the man calling himself Tarek for anonymity’s sake said. “Society hated gays before Ben Ali, but under Ennahda [current political ruling party], homosexuality is used as political weapon even more rigorously than in Ben Ali’s time.”