Emmanuel Macron will meet with representatives of the black feet – Algerian-born French citizens who fled to France after Algerian independence in 1962 – as he seeks to address France’s colonial legacy in North Africa ahead of a re-election bid this spring.
The Elysée said the goal was to continue Macron’s drive to build a “calm, shared, common memory for all” of the Algerian conflict.
Macron, the first French president born after Algeria’s 1954-62 war of independence, has sought during his five years in office to take steps toward acknowledging the brutality of the Algerian conflict, which has been shrouded in secrecy. denials and remains a dividing factor. factor in modern French society.
His latest move to address France’s past in Algeria, which it occupied from 1830 to 1962, comes ahead of the 60th anniversary of Algeria’s independence this year, just as far-right candidates in France’s spring presidential election continue to focus on immigration issues, Islam. and divisions in society.
Macron will host a meeting with representatives of French and European families who lived in Algeria during French rule and returned to France after Algeria gained independence, who were known as black feet. His office said it would move toward “acknowledging” the civilian deaths in a shootout on rue d’Isly in Algiers in March 1962, a week after the signing of the Evian peace accords and ceasefire. that ended the war.
In rue d’Islay, sympathizers from French Algeria who had tried to push into the Bab El-Oued neighborhood of Algiers were shot by a unit of the French army, leaving at least 50 dead. It marked the beginning of a mass exodus of so-called black feet from Algeria to France, many settled in the south of France.
Macron had sparked controversy, including criticism from some black feet groups, during the last presidential campaign in 2017 when he declared that the colonization of Algeria by France was a “crime against humanity”.
He later retracted his comments, calling for “neither denial nor regret” about France’s colonial history, adding: “We cannot remain trapped in the past.”
Since then, he has been seen as going further than previous French presidents in officially beginning to acknowledge the brutality of Algeria’s conflict, though human rights groups and historians have said Paris needs to go further in reconciling France with its colonial past. .
In 2018, Macron acknowledged that the French military instituted a “system” that facilitated torture as he sought to hold on to his 130-year rule of the country, a historic admission by France. He used the case of mathematician Maurice Audin, a communist pro-independence activist who disappeared in 1957, to make a far-reaching comment on the sanctioning of torture in France, going further than any previous president.
Last year, Macron admitted that French soldiers tortured and killed Algerian lawyer and activist Ali Boumendjel in 1957 during the country’s war of independence.
The death had been recorded as a suicide. “No crime, no atrocity committed by anyone during the Algerian war can be excused or kept secret,” the president’s office said at the time.
Last year, Macron apologized for France’s failures toward Algerians known as “harkis,” a loaded and often pejorative term for Muslim Algerians who helped the French in the brutal eight-year war of independence and faced discrimination and poverty. in France.
Macron also said in a statement last fall that a bloody police operation against Algerian protesters in Paris on October 17, 1961, which led to dozens of deaths that have never been legally investigated and saw protesters beaten and thrown into the Seine, amounted to to “crimes”. that they were “inexcusable” for France. But he was accused by historians and human rights groups for failing to come up with an official apology from the state.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism