Algerian president demands 'recognition' of France's crimes

Algerian president demands 'total recognition' of France's colonial 'crimes'
2 min read
03 June, 2021
Tebboune explained that 'Algerians are waiting for a total recognition of all crimes' committed by France as its former colonial master.
Abdelmajid Tebboune also praised France's President Emmanuel Macron [Billal Bensalem/NurPhoto/Getty-archive]

The president of Algeria has demanded unequivocal acknowledgement from France of its colonial conduct in the North African nation.

Abdelmadjid Tebboune made the remarks to France's Le Point during an in-depth interview printed by the magazine on Wednesday.

He said this despite praising the French president, Emmanuel Macron.

Tebboune explained: "Algerians are waiting for a total recognition of all crimes.

"In the history of colonisation, there were three painful stages for us: the start of colonisation, with the extermination, over 40 years, of entire tribes, of entire villages decimated and the enfumades."

The term "enfumades" translates as "smokings" and refers to the French practice of suffocating Algerians to death with smoke from fire.

According to academic Marie-Cecile Thoral, this tactic was used on multiple occasions.

Voices

Tebboune continued, noting that this was followed by a European takeover of land from his people, plus "[t]he horror of 8 May 1945 with 45,000 dead."

This was the day French massacres began following pro-independence chants during a celebration of the Nazis' defeat in Europe.

"Finally, there was the war of liberation, when the Algerians took up arms to liberate their country," the Algerian president said.

He said that those of Macron's era, plus "certain French intellectuals" are not culpable for what happened, however, it is still vital to acknowledge what occurred.

"Because why hold to recognising what the Armenians and Jews suffered and ignore what happened in Algeria?"

He maintained that "it is not the France of [philosopher] Voltaire, the France of the Enlighteners that we judge. It's colonial France", before lauding those French citizens who assisted the Algerian cause.

When asked about reparations, especially over France's nuclear experiments in Algeria, Tebboune said "financial compensation would be a belittlement" to those who lost their lives.

As well as absolving the Macron-era of culpability, Tebboune gave his French counterpart direct praise.

"Macron has all my appreciation. He is the most enlightened of all. The other presidents all had a history with Algeria."

This came in response to a follow-up question in the context of historian Benjamin Stora's report on France's role in Algeria.

Tebboune said this was "intended for his president but which was not addressed to us".

The Algerian-born academic handed the document in this January.

At the time, Macron's office commented that "no apologies" will be given, though the president would perform "symbolic acts".

These were to acknowledge France's colonial wrongdoing and assist in bringing Paris and Algiers closer together.