Africa

Algerian party seeks to criminalize French colonization

Algerian-French tensions escalated over remarks by France’s president on colonial past

Abdul Razzaq bin Abdullah   | 05.10.2021
Algerian party seeks to criminalize French colonization

ALGIERS, Algeria

An Algerian party has launched an initiative to re-submit a bill criminalizing the French colonization of Algeria (1830-1962), a lawmaker said on Tuesday.

"We, as MPs (of the Movement for a Peaceful Society), launched an initiative to reactivate a draft law criminalizing the French colonization of Algeria,” Youssef Ajeisa, the deputy speaker of the People's National Assembly, Algeria’s lower house of parliament, told Anadolu Agency.

He said the move was in reaction to French President Emmanuel Macron’s "blatant assault" on Algeria.

On Thursday, Macron met at the Elysee Palace with the descendants of Algerians, who fought on France’s side during Algeria’s war of independence.

“The building of Algeria as a nation is a phenomenon worth watching. Was there an Algerian nation before French colonization? That is the question,” Le Monde daily quoted Macron as saying.

Macron’s remarks, however, sparked a storm of condemnations in Algeria.

“Macron’s remarks are an unacceptable insult to the memory of over 5.63 million martyrs who sacrificed themselves with a valiant resistance against French colonialism,” the Algerian presidency said in a statement.

Algerian President Abdelmedjid Tebboune recalled his country’s ambassador to France, Antar Daoud, for consultation and reportedly closed Algerian airspace to French military aircraft.

Ajeisa said Macron's words were “intentional” and were meant to attract the right-wing votes as France is slated to go to elections in April 2022.

He noted that a draft law criminalizing French colonialism was previously proposed during former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s era, but was frozen by the regime “due to political calculations.”

The initiative "is being quietly discussed with deputies from several blocs,” Ajeisa said, adding that the move aims to take collective action with all other parliamentary blocs before it is presented.

According to parliamentary bylaws, any bill submitted by lawmakers is first reviewed by the parliament speaker, before being approved by the government.

Commenting on Macron’s remarks on Tuesday in which he called for calming tensions, Ajeisa said France realizes that its interests in Algeria are in jeopardy.

“They (the French) escalate, and when the reaction is strong from Algeria, they retreat, because they are aware of the danger of worsening relations with Algeria on their interests,” Ajeisa said.

*Writing by Ibrahim Mukhtar

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