Most of the colonial occupiers shared the common racist and superior notion that prior to their arrival their colonial subjects had no sense of nationality or civility.
This is what makes the words of French President Emmanuel Macron last weekend all the more disconcerting. This is a president who took office calling colonialism a crime against humanity, and recognized the use of torture by the French colonial state in Algeria. But four years later, he publicly asked the question: “Was there an Algerian nation before French colonization?”
As might be expected, the Algerian government condemned the remarks with the indignation they deserved, the Algerian presidency having declared that Macron’s remarks were “an intolerable affront to the memory of the 5,630,000 valiant martyrs who sacrificed their lives in their heroic resistance to the French. colonial invasion.
What was even more disturbing was the fact that Macron’s comments were made in front of a gathering of Harkis’ grandchildren – Algerians who had sided with the French colonial state and were fighting the Front. of National Liberation (FLN) – which led the struggle for independence. The Harkis were in fact the accomplices in colonial crimes against the Algerian people during the 132 years of occupation by the French state.
Macron shocked Algeria and the world last month when he paid tribute to the descendants of the Harkis and asked their forgiveness for the mistreatment inflicted by the French state. Honoring those who collaborated with France during France’s war against forces fighting for freedom and independence suggests that even the young generation of political leaders in France did not transform from the state of colonial spirit.
For those who do not know the Algerian struggle for independence the film The battle of Algiers is highly recommended. But after being exposed through narratives, documents and historical archives to the horrors of French colonialism, it is reprehensible that Macron and his administration made it clear that there would be “no excuse” for the colonization of France. Algeria by France.
The refusal to take responsibility for the flagrant human rights violations committed by France makes genuine reconciliation between the two countries all the more difficult. But following the latest official comments, the general consensus within Algeria is that Macron’s supposed commitment to heal colonial wounds and forge better relations with Algeria is just a ruse.
In a battle for the soul of France, with Marine Le Pen posing stiff competition, Macron has notably shifted to the right over the past six months, especially regarding Islam in France and the colonial legacy of France. France. This political opportunism has a huge cost for the social cohesion of France.
Algerians and other North Africans have been targeted in France and harassed by local authorities, mosques and closed Muslim charities, and there is growing intolerance towards those considered Muslims and former colonial subjects.
* Shannon Ebrahim, foreign editor-in-chief of the group