Algerians unhappy about France’s lack of apology for war role

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Algerians have called on France to acknowledge the crimes it committed in the Algerian war of 1954-1962. The French president Emmanuel Macron will take symbolic acts to appease memories of the war in a bid to reconcile the two countries, a statement from the Elysée palace said Wednesday.

But according to the statement, Macron will not honor a request for apology by Algerians. The announcement has not been well received in the North African nation. It comes as the long-awaited report on France’s role in the war was published by French historian Benjamin Stora.

“As an Algerian, I think that it is up to Algerian diplomacy to move forward and to denounce this position because France is considered one of the worst of colonialism. It has tortured and persecuted in particular by carrying out nuclear tests on the Algerian people. As Algerians, we must denounce this position, and France must recognize its crimes, murders, torture, and forced displacement of the Algerian people”, Lahwij Hicham, a student said.

In Algeria, the memory of the “War of Liberation”, synonymous with massacres, torture and displacement of people, cemented national sentiment. It also provided the government with legitimacy, coupled with an anti-French discourse, on which it continues to rely on 60 years later.

“Concerning what Macron said and the important crimes of France in Algeria, we as Algerians must have a unified position between the people and the government against Macron and France to force them to recognize the crimes committed in Algeria, the very great crimes, the crimes against humanity without precedent in the world”, Mostapha ben Zayed, a civil servant said.

The French president will participate in three highly symbolic days of commemoration. These are the national day of the ‘’harkis’’ on September 25, the bloody repression of an Algerian demonstration on October 17, 1961 in Paris, and the Evian Accords of March 19, 1962, which consecrated the cease-fire in Algeria, thus paving the way for independence.

Macron is expected to closely study several proposals of the ‘’Stora Report’’, including the recognition of the assassination by the French army of the Algerian lawyer and nationalist leader Ali Boumendjel in 1957. The entry of the anti-colonialist lawyer Gisèle Halimi, who died on July 28, 2020, into the Pantheon which welcomes the heroes of French History.

The report did not immediately elicit an official reaction in Algeria. In 2022, the country will mark its 60th anniversary of its independence from France.