Author Topic: French Colonialism in Algiers  (Read 380 times)

90sRetroFan

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Re: French Colonialism in Algiers
« on: March 15, 2021, 02:05:03 am »
OLD CONTENT contd.

The only bright spot in French administration:

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Napoleon III visited Algeria twice in the early 1860s. He was profoundly impressed with the nobility and virtue of the tribal chieftains, who appealed to the emperor's romantic nature, and was shocked by the self-serving attitude of the colon leaders. He decided to halt the expansion of European settlement beyond the coastal zone and to restrict contact between Muslims and the colons, whom he considered to have a corrupting influence on the indigenous population. He envisioned a grand design for preserving most of Algeria for the Muslims by founding a royaume arabe (Arab kingdom) with himself as the roi des Arabes (king of the Arabs). He instituted the so-called politics of the grands chefs to deal with the Muslims directly through their traditional leaders.[39]

To further his plans for the royaume arabe, Napoleon III issued two decrees affecting tribal structure, land tenure, and the legal status of Muslims in French Algeria. The first, promulgated in 1863, was intended to renounce the state's claims to tribal lands and eventually provide private plots to individuals in the tribes, thus dismantling "feudal" structures and protecting the lands from the colons. Tribal areas were to be identified, delimited into douars (administrative units), and given over to councils. Arable land was to be divided among members of the douar over a period of one to three generations, after which it could be bought and sold by the individual owners. Unfortunately for the tribes, however, the plans of Napoleon III quickly unraveled.

It took WWII to inspire successful Algerian nationalism (though sadly it was based on democracy):

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Algerian_War

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nationalist leader Ferhat Abbas founded the Algerian Popular Union (Union populaire algérienne) in 1938. In 1943 Abbas wrote the Algerian People's Manifesto (Manifeste du peuple algérien). Arrested after the Sétif massacre of May 8, 1945, during which the French Army and pieds-noirs mobs killed about 6,000 Algerians,[13]:27 Abbas founded the Democratic Union of the Algerian Manifesto (UDMA) in 1946 and was elected as a deputy. Founded in 1954, the National Liberation Front (FLN) succeeded Messali Hadj's Algerian People's Party (PPA), while its leaders created an armed wing, the Armée de Libération Nationale (National Liberation Army) to engage in an armed struggle against French authority. France, which had just lost Indochina, was determined not to lose the next anti-colonial war, particularly not in its oldest and nearest major colony, which was regarded as an integral part of the republic.
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Fewer than 500 fellaghas (pro-Independence fighters) could be counted at the beginning of the conflict.[41] The Algerian population radicalized itself in particular because of the terrorist acts of French-sponsored Main Rouge (Red Hand) group, which targeted anti-colonialists in all of the Maghreb region (Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria), killing, for example, Tunisian activist Farhat Hached in 1952.[41]
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As the FLN campaign of influence spread through the countryside, many European farmers in the interior (called Pieds-Noirs), many of whom lived on lands taken from Muslim communities during the nineteenth century,[43] sold their holdings and sought refuge in Algiers and other Algerian cities. After a series of bloody, random massacres and bombings by Muslim Algerians in several towns and cities, the French Pieds-Noirs and urban French population began to demand that the French government engage in sterner countermeasures, including the proclamation of a state of emergency, capital punishment for political crimes, denunciation of all separatists, and most ominously, a call for 'tit-for-tat' reprisal operations by police, military, and para-military forces. Colon vigilante units, whose unauthorized activities were conducted with the passive cooperation of police authorities, carried out ratonnades (literally, rat-hunts, raton being a racist term for denigrating Muslim Algerians) against suspected FLN members of the Muslim community.
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The FLN adopted tactics similar to those of nationalist groups in Asia, and the French did not realize the seriousness of the challenge they faced until 1955, when the FLN moved into urbanized areas. "An important watershed in the War of Independence was the massacre of Pieds-Noirs civilians by the FLN near the town of Philippeville (now known as Skikda) in August 1955. Before this operation, FLN policy was to attack only military and government-related targets. The commander of the Constantine wilaya/region, however, decided a drastic escalation was needed. The killing by the FLN and its supporters of 123 people, including 71 French,[44] including old women and babies, shocked Jacques Soustelle into calling for more repressive measures against the rebels. The French authorities stated that 1,273 guerrillas died in what Soustelle admitted were "severe" reprisals. The FLN subsequently claimed that 12,000 Muslims were killed.[13]:122 Soustelle's repression was an early cause of the Algerian population's rallying to the FLN.[44] After Philippeville, Soustelle declared sterner measures and an all-out war began

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Algiers_(1956–57)

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On the FLN side, a decision was made in late 1956 to embark upon a sustained campaign of urban terrorism designed to show the authority of the French state did not extend to Algiers, Algeria's largest city.[12] Abane Ramdane believed that such a campaign would be the "Algerian Dien Bien Phu" that would force the French out of Algeria.[12] It was decided to deliberately target pied-noir citizens as a way of breaking French power as one FLN directive put it: "A bomb causing the death of ten people and wounding fifty others is the equivalent on the psychological level to the loss of a French battalion."[13]

On 28 December 1956, on the orders of Ben M'hidi, Ali La Pointe assassinated the Mayor of Boufarik and President of the Federation of Mayors of Algeria, Amedee Froger outside his house on Rue Michelet. The following day, a bomb exploded in the cemetery where Froger was to be buried; enraged European civilians responded by carrying out random revenge attacks (ratonnade), killing four Muslims and injuring 50.[14]
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There were no written orders from the government of Guy Mollet to use torture or engage in extrajudicial executions, but numerous Army officers have stated that they received verbal permission to use whatever means necessary to break the FLN including the use of torture and extrajudicial killings.
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On the afternoon of Saturday 26 January, female FLN operatives again planted bombs in European Algiers, the targets were the Otomatic on Rue Michelet, the Cafeteria and the Coq-Hardi brasserie. The explosions killed 4 and wounded 50 and a Muslim was killed by Pied-Noirs in retaliation.[17]

In late January the FLN called an 8-day general strike across Algeria commencing on Monday 28 January. The strike appeared to be a success with most Muslim shops remaining shuttered, workers failed to turn up and children didn't attend school. However Massu soon deployed his troops and used armored cars to pull the steel shutters off shops while army trucks rounded up workers and schoolchildren and forced them to attend their jobs and studies. Within a few days the strike had been broken.[18] The bombings however continued and in mid-February female FLN operatives planted bombs at the Municipal Stadium and the El-Biar Stadium in Algiers killing 10 and injuring 45.[17] After visiting Algiers, a clearly shocked defense minister Maurice Bourgès-Maunoury told General Massu after the bombings: "We must finish these people off!".[19]
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the use of torture by the French security forces became institutionalised, the techniques ranging from beatings, electroshock (the gegene), Waterboarding, sexual assault and ****.[24]

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On 23 March following a meeting between Massu, Trinquier, Fossy-Francois and Aussaresses to discuss what was to be done with Ali Boumendjel, Aussaresses went to the prison where Boumendjel was being held and ordered that he be transferred to another building, in the process he was thrown from a 6th floor skybridge to his death.[34]

Major Aussaresses was unapologetic regarding the actions he had undertaken during the battle, he said that "The justice system would have been paralyzed had it not been for our initiative. Many terrorists would have been freed and given the opportunity of launching other attacks..The judicial system was not suited for such drastic conditions... Summary executions were therefore an inseparable part of the tasks associated with keeping law and order."[35]
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In early May two paratroopers were shot in the street by the FLN, their comrades led by one of Trinquier's informers attacked a bath-house which was believed to be an FLN hideout, killing almost 80 Muslims.[37]

On 3 June Yacef's forces planted bombs in street lamps at bus stops in the centre of Algiers, the explosions killed eight and wounded 90, a mix of French and Muslims. On 9 June a bomb exploded at the Casino on the outskirts of Algiers killing nine and injuring 85. Following the burial of the dead from the casino, the Pied-Noirs started a ratonnade that resulted in five Muslims dead and more than 50 injured.
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FLN losses are impossible to determine accurately. In addition to the publicised FLN deaths there were many who simply disappeared. Paul Teitgen, general secretary of the Prefecture of Algiers who resigned in March 1957 (but was kept in his post by Governor-General Lacoste until October 1957) over the use of torture by French forces calculated that over 24,000 Muslims had been arrested during the battle and by subtracting those released or still in captivity estimated that as many as 3,000 were missing.[43]

As details of the use of torture and summary executions became public in the years following the battle and the end of the Algerian War, the French victory and the reputations of many of the commanders became tainted by the methods used in the battle.[44]

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revelations of torture and the indiscriminate brutality the army visited on the Muslim population prompted widespread revulsion, and a significant constituency supported the principle of national liberation. By 1959, it was clear that the status quo was untenable and France could either grant Algeria independence or allow real equality with the Muslims. De Gaulle told an advisor: "If we integrate them, if all the Arabs and the Berbers of Algeria were considered French, how could they be prevented from settling in France, where the living standard is so much higher? My village would no longer be called Colombey-les-Deux-Églises but Colombey-les-Deux-Mosquées".
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De Gaulle convoked the first referendum on the self-determination of Algeria on January 8, 1961, which 75% of the voters (both in France and Algeria) approved and de Gaulle's government began secret peace negotiations with the FLN.
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The OAS was to be the main standard bearer for the pieds-noirs for the rest of the war.
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To pressure de Gaulle to abandon his demand to keep the Sahara, the FLN organized demonstrations in France from Algerians living there in the fall of 1961, which the French police crushed.[65]:91 It was in the course of crushing one demonstration that a massacre of Algerians on 17 October 1961, which was ordered by Maurice Papon. On 10 January 1962, the FLN started a "general offensive" against the OAS, staging a series on the pied-noir communities as a way of applying pressure.[65]:91 On 7 February 1962, the OAS attempted to assassinate the Culture Minister André Malraux by setting off a bomb in his apartment building that failed to kill its intended target, but did leave a four-year girl living in the adjoining apartment blinded by the shrapnel.[66] The blinding of the girl did much to turn French opinion against the OAS.

On 20 February 1962 a peace accord was reached for granting independence to all of Algeria.[65]:87 In their final form, the Évian Accords allowed the pieds-noirs equal legal protection with Algerians over a three-year period. These rights included respect for property, participation in public affairs, and a full range of civil and cultural rights. At the end of that period, however, all Algerian residents would be obliged to become Algerian citizens or be classified as aliens with the attendant loss of rights. The agreement also allowed France to establish military bases in Algeria even after independence (including the nuclear test site of Regghane, the naval base of Mers-el-Kebir and the air base of Bou Sfer) and to have privileges vis-à-vis Algerian oil. The OAS started a campaign of spectacular terrorist attacks to sabotage the Évian Accords, hoping that if enough Muslims were killed, a general pogrom against the pieds-noirs would break out, leading the French Army to turn its guns against the government.[65]:87 Despite ample provocation with OAS lobbying mortar shells into the casbah of Algiers, the FLN gave orders for no retaliatory attacks.[65]:87 In the spring of 1962, the OAS turned to bank robbery to finance its war against both the FLN and the French state, and bombed special units sent by Paris to hunt them down.[65]:93 Only eighty deputies voted against the Évian Accords in the National Assembly and Cairns wrote the "fulminations" of Jean-Marie Le Pen against de Gaulle were only "...the traditional verbal excesses of third-rate firebrands without a substantial following and without a constructive idea".[65]
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De Gaulle pronounced Algeria an independent country on July 3. The Provisional Executive, however, proclaimed July 5, the 132nd anniversary of the French entry into Algeria, as the day of national independence.

During the three months between the cease-fire and the French referendum on Algeria, the OAS unleashed a new campaign. The OAS sought to provoke a major breach in the ceasefire by the FLN, but the attacks now were aimed also against the French army and police enforcing the accords as well as against Muslims. It was the most wanton carnage that Algeria had witnessed in eight years of savage warfare. OAS operatives set off an average of 120 bombs per day in March, with targets including hospitals and schools.

During the summer of 1962, a rush of pieds-noirs fled to France. Within a year, 1.4 million refugees, including almost the entire Jewish community, had joined the exodus. Despite the declaration of independence on July 5, 1962, the last French forces did not leave the naval base of Mers El Kébir until 1967.
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After having denied its use for 40 years, the French state has finally recognized its history of torture; although, there was never an official proclamation about it. General Paul Aussaresses was sentenced following his justification of the use of torture for "apology of war crimes." But, as it did during wartime, the French state claimed torture were isolated acts, instead of admitting its responsibility for the frequent use of torture to break the insurgents' morale and not, as Aussaresses has claimed, to "save lives" by gaining short-term information which would stop "terrorists".[101] The state now claims that torture was a regrettable aberration due to the context of the exceptionally savage war. But academic research has proven both theses false. "Torture in Algeria was engraved in the colonial act; it is a 'normal' illustration of an abnormal system", wrote Nicolas Bancel, Pascal Blanchard and Sandrine Lemaire, who discuss the phenomena of "human zoos."[102]

NEVER FORGIVE. NEVER FORGET.