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The curse of French colonisation of Algeria is chasing Macron

French president Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech during a ceremony in memory of the Harkis, Algerians who helped the French Army in the Algerian War of Independence, at the Elysee Palace in Paris, on September 20, 2021 [GONZALO FUENTES/POOL/AFP via Getty Images]
French president Emmanuel Macron in Paris, on September 20, 2021 [GONZALO FUENTES/POOL/AFP via Getty Images]

Again, Emmanuel Macron returns to chasing conservative right wing votes through diving deep into dark French history in Algeria. However, this time, his attempt proved his poor knowledge of history.

Sitting with 18 grandsons of Algerian Herkis, who fought beside the French colonisers during Algeria's War of Independence between 1954 and 1962, he attempted to tone down the impact of broken promises that have been made by consecutive French governments.

He then went on to claim that the "official history of Algeria has been rewritten, not based on truths, but based on hatred against France." Macron was blaming Algerians for their deep-rooted hatred of France by claiming that they did not write the true narrative about the history of the French colonial era. This means that he is denying all the atrocities committed against Algerians that the French colonisers carried out over 132 years.

Macron's argument was poor because anyone with knowledge about history knows that Algerian history was written mostly by European historians, mainly French. Therefore, if there was misinformation and myths, Algerians should not be blamed for them.

During the 132 years of colonisation, France carried out systematic ethnic cleansing and war crimes. It worked hard to erase the concept of Algerian citizenship and make the country part of France, by either killing its original inhabitants or 'turning them into the French' through detaching them from their culture and religion. The French colonisers demolished mosques, stopped observing and marking Algerian and Islamic events and occasions and made French the official language of the country.

France carried out mass killings in Algerian cities and villages, and replaced Algerians with French citizens. France created 5.4 million Algerian martyrs, including about 1.5 million killed in just six years—during the War of Independence between 1954 and 1962. France left Algeria and is still stealing its resources through internationally-backed custodianship over the former colony, and preventing its people from carrying out real development. The oppressive world powers shamelessly accept this.

READ: Turkey slams Macron's 'wrong, populist' comments on Algeria

Following the War of Independence, France instated rulers who claimed they had been ruling the country in favour of its citizens. However, these rulers were French agents, including the current President, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, who allegedly showed his rage over Macron's remarks.

I think banning French military jets from using Algerian airspace and recalling ambassadors just for questioning are insufficient reactions for the enormity of the offense committed by Macron against Algeria. Tebboune was just a puppet who was made president in a dubious way, but dubbed as 'elections' just to prevent massive popular demonstrations against the ruling regime.

According to Le Monde, Macron also told the Harkis: "The building of Algeria as a nation is a phenomenon worth watching. Was there an Algerian nation before French colonisation? That is the question." Macron went too deep in ignoring Algerian existence, cultures, religion, science and history.

I think, he should read The Civilisation of the Arabs  by the French Orientalist, Gustav Le Bon, who said about the Arabs when they conquered Spain, including Algerians: "They devoted themselves to the study of sciences and arts, translation of Greek and Latin books into Arabic and the foundation of universities that remained the only cultural refuge in Europe for a long time." During that time, France was sinking into the deep dark.

It seems that Macron has poor knowledge about his country's history. I think he does not remember— or deliberately wishes to forget—that Algeria, under the command of the Ottoman ruler, Admiral Barbaros Hayreddin Pasa, protected the French kings, Francis I, to maintain stability of the French kingdom and Henry II, as well as Charles V against the Spanish invasion.

Macron also said: "There were previous colonisations. I am fascinated to see Turkey's ability to make people totally forget the role it played in Algeria and the domination it has exercised, and to explain that we are the only colonisers. It's great. Algerians believe it."

READ: Macron attacked Algiers over situation in Mali, claims opposition official

Macron, there was a previous colonial power in Algeria, but not a Turkish one. It seems that you also need a history lesson to understand the difference between Turkey and the Ottoman Empire. There were previous colonisations in Algeria, but the Ottomans, whom you referred to as Turkey, liberated Algeria from Spanish colonisation and returned the Muslim country to the umbrella of Islamic unity under the Ottoman Sultanate.

When they ruled Algeria, similar to what happened in all Arab, Asian and European countries, the Ottomans built schools for the natives, allowing the native languages of the countries to be used, built mosques, libraries, hospitals, bridges and maintained the cultures of the nations. The most important thing was that the Ottomans did not steal the resources of those countries, unlike France, which has been living off the resources of poor African countries, mainly their uranium.

It is not Turkey which has the ability to make people forget its role during the Ottoman era, but the Algerians themselves, who, with gratitude, do not forget the nation and the rulers who helped them and protected them for centuries, while maintaining their culture and traditions. Macron surely needs to read more of Le Bon's book in order to know how Muslims protected nations and their culture, and how he lamented the inability of Muslims to conquer France.

Should they do,  "No doubt, the barbarous Christian Europe would have gotten the same flourishing civilisation which Spain obtained under the banner of Arab civilisation and, after being edified, would have avoided such severe catastrophes of religious wars, the epic of San Barthélémy, the wrongdoings of inquisitions," Le Bon wrote in his book.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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