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France should recognize Algeria colonial crimes: Socialist leader

[JURIST] A prominent French Socialist Party (PS) [official website] leader called Sunday for France to recognize its crimes in colonial Algeria [JURIST news archives], including the alleged massacres of 45,000 Algerians demanding independence at the end of World War II, but stopped short of calling for an official French apology. Speaking at a conference in Algiers, Jack Lang [Wikipedia profile], a special advisor to PS presidential nominee Segolene Royal [BBC profile], emphasized that recognition through such acts as revising school textbooks to more accurately reflect the colony's history are ultimately more valuable than an official apology. Last November Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika [BBC profile] called for France to apologize for and to acknowledge [JURIST report] its colonial crimes. AFP has more.

France ruled the North African country for more than 130 years. After eight years of conflict costing 1.5 million lives during the Algerian War of Independence [backgrounder], France relinquished control of Algeria in 1962 and the two countries have since worked on improving relations. Algeria first called for a French apology [JURIST report] in 2005, after France strained ties by approving a law [text in French; Guardian report] requiring French history teachers to stress the "positive role of the French presence overseas, especially in North Africa." The law was later rejected by French President Jacques Chirac [BBC profile], but not before delaying a reconciliation treaty. More recently Turkish lawmakers objecting to French legislation that would make it illegal to deny that Turkish killings of Armenians during World War I was genocide have threatened to adopt a retaliatory measure [JURIST report] that would label the French killings of Algerians as genocide and make it illegal to deny that the French were responsible for the killings.

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