Tunisian Instagram influencer Sabee al Saidi has received criticism after she posted pictures and videos online of her aboard a boat of illegal immigrants heading to Italy.
The Tunisian, who is reported to be 18 years old, has amassed hundreds of thousands of followers on Instagram and posted pictures of herself aboard an illegal migrant boat on November 14th, but the story did not break into the European press until this week when it was reported by French broadcaster RFI.
The teen, wearing makeup and posing like a model in the pictures, explained said she had decided to come to Italy illegally because social conditions in Tunisia had “forced” her to leave and said the actual experience aboard the boat heading to Europe was “terrible”.
Ms al Saidi is said to have recently arrived on the island of Lampedusa illegally by boat and is believed to be currently in coronavirus quarantine on the island of Pelagie, according to a report from the Italian newspaper Il Giornale.
A video has also emerged of the teen posing aboard the boat, showing several other migrants on board, most of them seemingly young men.
Ecco i profughi che scappano dalla fame e dalla guerra (di Tunisia).
Lei si chiama Sabee al Saidi, blogger tunisina, contenta di dirigersi verso le coste italiane su un barchino da clandestina. La legge italiana? Dettagli. Ditelo a Lamorgese pic.twitter.com/nkB7CmeLsv
— Annalisa Chirico (@AnnalisaChirico) November 23, 2021
Several have criticised the Tunisian influencer for presenting the often dangerous illegal crossings from North Africa to Europe as glamourous and like an episode from reality TV, with populist League leader Matteo Salvini comparing the footage to a popular hidden camera practical joke television series.
“During the clandestine crossing, on an irregular boat, the Tunisian influencer publishes Instagram stories and photos — joyful and smiling. I’ll leave the comments to you,” Salvini said in a post, also on Instagram.
Tunisia has been one of the main North African countries for the departure of migrants heading to Italy, many of which, like Ms al Saidi, initially arrive on the southern Italian island of Lampedusa, often leading to overcrowding of the migrant reception facility on the island.
As a result of the overcrowding, NGO Doctors Without Borders called for the government to expand the reception facilities to accommodate even more migrants.
Italy Receives 2,500 African Migrant Sea Arrivals in One Week https://t.co/1AalehTDOm
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) November 8, 2021