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News > World

Algeria Demands France Recognize ‘Colonial Era’ Crimes

  • An Algerian parachutist holds a torch during a demonstration to mark Algeria's Independence Day in Algiers July 5, 2017.

    An Algerian parachutist holds a torch during a demonstration to mark Algeria's Independence Day in Algiers July 5, 2017. | Photo: Reuters

Published 5 July 2017

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika made the comments on the eve of commemorations marking more than decades of independence.

A day before Algeria marked 55 years of freedom from French colonial rule, the Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika said Paris should be held accountable for crimes during its rule.

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"My people are still demanding that their sufferings during the colonial era should be recognized by France," declared Bouteflika.

"By remembering our tragic past due to the French invasion, we are actually exercising our duty to remember our ancestors, millions of whom fell in the field of resistance, hundreds of thousands of others were imprisoned or deported, while millions were dispossessed of their lands and possessions," he added.

The president also stressed that celebrating Independence Day is “exercising a duty to remember one and a half million of our sons who sacrificed their lives for the recovery of independence and national sovereignty."

Algeria won its freedom after over a century of French rule on July 5, 1962, following a conflict that lasted eight years and cost more than 1.5 million lives.

Thousands of people were also tortured and raped.

"What Hitler did to the Jews, France did it to the Algerians!" Ahmed L., an Algerian, reflected in a recent interview with the outlet, OrientXXI.

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Paris has never officially apologized for its 132-year colonization of the North African country.

Consequently, relations remain strained between the two nations.

Algeria is still waiting for France to openly recognize the past crimes ahead of normalizing ties.

It was only in 2013 that then-French President Francois Hollande acknowledged, during his first official visit to Algiers, that "the colonial system was deeply unjust."

His successor Emmanuel Macron has gone further describing France's history in Algeria as a "crime against humanity."

He is due to visit in the coming days and could pave the way to a new relationship with Algiers.

Today, France is home to a sizeable Algerian population.

But sociological studies routinely reveal discrimination against up to 4 million of them in everything from jobs to housing.

French-Algerian communities still live on impoverished housing estates, go to bad schools and have few opportunities for social advancement.

Many are also subjected to growing levels of Islamophobia.

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