French interior minister criticized for paying tribute to Algerian war monument

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French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin sparked controversy during a visit to Algeria after posting a video offering his respects to the “martyrs of the war” on Sunday in a monument in Algiers.Although the Memorial des Martyrs – which commemorates those killed in Algeria’s war of independence from French colonial rule – is a common stopover for senior foreign officials visiting Algeria, the tribute has been condemned by some in France as an “insult” and “shameful”.

Darmanin on Saturday began a two-day visit to Algiers as part of a tour focused on the fight against terrorism and illegal immigration, following an attack by a Tunisian migrant that killed three people in the French city of Nice last month.

Meeting his Algerian counterpart Kamel Beldjoud, Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad, Foreign Minister Sabri Boukadoum and Minister of Religious Affairs Youcef Belmehdi, Darmanin stressed the importance of improving “distinguished” bilateral relations between the two nations.

Translation: Thank you to the Algerian people and their government for warmly welcoming me to Algeria. May the strong and inalienable bonds of friendship between our two countries continue.

Darmanin hopes that a tour of the Maghreb and visits to Italy and Malta will help strengthen France’s security position and contribute to its nationwide crackdown on extremism, including an expulsion plan for a certain number of North African nationals considered a security threat.

Darmanin, whose grandfather was Algerian and fought with French resistance forces in 1944, also paid tribute to French soldiers at the Saint-Eugène cemetery in Bologhine, on the outskirts of Algiers.

However, his tribute to the Algerian monument was not well received by either the Algerians or the French.

MEP Thierry Mariani, who belongs to the French right-wing Les Républicains party, denounced Darmanin’s homage as an “insult” and “affront” to the harkis (term used to designate the Algerians who fought for France), French colonists in colonial times known as the black feet, and veterans of the French army.

Other political figures have also denounced Darmanin’s tribute to Algerian resistance fighters – including the mayor of Béziers, Robert Ménard – who was fined in 2017 for pushing the conspiracy theory of the “great replacement” of the white supremacy.

Translation: Unworthy for a French minister to do that. Our fallen soldiers in Algeria, the tortured Harkis, the black-footed families whose lives have been shattered forever… Does that mean nothing to him?

Another member of the Republicans, Valérie Boyer, also criticized Darmanin, expressing his “disgust” at the “betrayal”.

Translation: Once again disgusted by this indignity to which the Algerian government subjects France. I think of the tortured Harkis, of the Pieds-Noirs whose lives were shattered, of our soldiers who died on French soil, and I ask that their memory be finally respected. Stop these betrayals.

Meanwhile, some social media users called on the French government for not being “consistent” on its stance on colonialism.

Translation: Three years ago [French President] Emmanuel Macron called colonization a “crime against humanity”. Last Sunday, [Prime Minister] Jean Castex says that we must put an end to the contrition of colonization. Eight days later, Darmanin will repent in Algiers. Where is the consistency?

Many Algerians also reacted to the images, calling them “shameful” on the part of the Algerian government.

Translation: It is we who should be ashamed that a grandson of a Harki comes to pray in a memorial dedicated to the men who fought to take back their country.

Translation: I have tears in my eyes, isn’t the government ashamed to sully the honor of our martyrs by letting the colonizer come and mourn their dead on Algerian soil? Do you have so little regard for history? I’m disappointed there is no need to do this.

Some users Online highlighted comments made by Darmanin in 2017, in which he lambasted Macron’s “unacceptable” remarks that colonization is a crime against humanity.

Translation: Darmanin’s visit to the Monument to the Martyrs is disturbing, inappropriate and hypocritical. He may have deleted his tweets but I haven’t forgotten him, and Algerian foreign officials should have remembered that. It is an insult to the dead of colonialism.

Darmanin’s visit to Algeria follows that of Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who visited Algeria last month and was greeted by President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, hospitalized in Germany since October 28 after having contracted Covid-19.

Algeria has yet to officially comment on whether it will accept a list of its nationals that France intends to expel for links to extremism, unofficial reports already claiming Algeria has rejected the request. repatriation.

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Tunisia has, however, expressed its desire to repatriate Tunisian nationals suspected of being “radical” as long as judicial rights are first guaranteed in France.

This is not the first time that Darmanin has sparked controversy since he led the recent crackdown on “enemies of the Republic” following the murder of Samuel Paty, a 47-year-old teacher who had shown students cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad published by Charlie Hebdo magazine.

The Muslim charity BarakaCity was dissolved by the French authorities after Darmanin claimed that the organization “had justified terrorist acts”.

Last month, Darmanin was ridiculed on social media after giving an interview in which he suggested that certain food aisles in supermarkets, including kosher food and halal food, contribute to “separatism.”



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