An update. French historian Benjamin Stora denies being opposed to France’s “apologies” for colonization in Algeria, as he was accused of in his report on the memorial reconciliation between the two countries, in an interview on Sunday with a Algerian newspaper.
“I wrote in my report that I did not see any objection to France’s apologies to Algeria for the massacres committed”, says Mr. Stora in a long interview published by the French-speaking daily. Expression, close to power.
His report, commissioned in July by French President Emmanuel Macron and delivered on January 20, continues to raise an avalanche of criticism, both in Algeria and in France, in particular for not having taken a position in favor of an “apology” from Paris. “Let’s be clear: there is no slogan in my report, No apologies or repentance », Assures the historian.
Macron excludes presenting the “apologies” requested by Algiers
Mr. Macron pledged to take “symbolic acts” to appease memories on colonization and the Algerian war (1954-1962) but ruled out offering the “apologies” requested by Algiers. In the absence of President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, treated in Germany for post-Covid-19 “complications”, Algiers has not yet commented on the report.
But the powerful official Organization of the Mojahedin, the veterans of the War of Independence, rejected the document which “failed to address […] the various colonial crimes perpetrated by the French state ”. “The proposal was not to write a history of contemporary Algeria, but to measure the effects of this war of independence in the making of the different groups of memories in France”, underlines Benjamin Stora.
At the heart of its report – a future book of 200 pages – is a key recommendation: to create in France a “Memories and Truth” commission, responsible for proposing “joint initiatives between France and Algeria on memory issues”. Among these possible initiatives, symbolic gestures such as bringing the lawyer Gisèle Halimi, an opposition figure to the Algerian war into the Pantheon, giving greater place to the history of France in Algeria in school programs or even return to Algiers the sword of Abdelkader, hero of the resistance to French colonization in the 19th century.
Use the report “as a springboard”
But all these “recommendations do not necessarily find effective application. This is the decision of the political world, ”said the specialist in the history of Algeria. “It is therefore not as a + Elysée official + or advise that I worked, but as a historian […] “
“Instead of rejecting (the report) en bloc, I believe it is important to use it as a springboard to advance the cause of the Algerians,” he adds. In this interview, Mr. Stora said he was surprised by “the enormous media coverage” of his report, demonstrating a “still hot topic”.
With the approach of the 60th anniversary of the end of the war and of the independence of Algeria in 2022, the “reconciliation of memories” is a priority issue between Algiers and Paris. MM. Macron and Tebboune are committed to working again on this memorial file as soon as the Algerian president returns.
Original article by : www.leparisien.fr