Café El Emir in Paris smelled of fresh mint and hookah smoke. Behind the counter, Samy was pouring mint tea for customers who had trickled in to watch Tunisia take on France in the World Cup 2022.
Before the match, he was not confident Tunisia would pull through. “This is going to be Tunisia’s last match of the World Cup,” he said
And he was right. Tunisia stunned reigning champions France 1-0 but were still knocked out after Australia beat Denmark in the other group match.
El Emir had broadcast all of Tunisia’s World Cup matches, serving tea and hookahs to a packed house of Tunisian fans who gathered in front of two flat-screen TVs inside and on the terrace.
The café sits smack in the middle of Paris’s Belleville neighbourhood, the place to visit for authentic fish couscous, rose-flavoured pastries or other Tunisian specialities in the French capital.
For decades, Belleville has been home to thousands of Tunisians in France. On Wednesday, they came out in droves to support their home country against their adopted one.
When hometown hero Wahbi Khazri scored the second-half goal, the fans on El Emir’s terrace were overjoyed. The whole place exploded.