France should acknowledge colonial ‘crimes’: Algerian president

France should acknowledge colonial ‘crimes’: Algerian president

[JURIST] France [JURIST news archive] should acknowledge crimes it committed as the ruler of Algeria [JURIST news archive] in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika [BBC profile] reiterated Saturday. France ruled the North African country for more than 130 years and allegedly massacred 45,000 Algerians demanding independence at the end of World War II. After eight years of conflict costing 1.5 million lives, French relinquished control in 1962 and the two countries have since worked on improving relations. The latest request comes only two days before a scheduled visit to Algeria by French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy [JURIST news archive], a conservative politician expected to run for the French presidency next year. Reuters has more.

The request is not a new one. Algeria made a similar call [JURIST report] late last year, 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 it delayed the signing of 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.