September 2, 2022 Special Dispatch No. 10181

Algerian Islamists, Analysts, And Social Media Users Describe Macron's Visit To Algeria As 'Soft Colonization,' Demand Apology And Reparations

September 2, 2022
North Africa | Special Dispatch No. 10181

Reacting to French President Emmanuel Macron's three-day visit to Algeria last week, which concluded with the signing of several agreements on energy, security, and the two countries' joint history, Algerian Islamists, political analysts, and social media users strongly condemned the visit, with some describing it as "a soft colonization" that continued France's exploitation of Algeria's gas and oil resources, while others demanded an apology and reparations to the victims of the colonial era. They questioned the Algerian government's declared support for the Palestinians, saying that Macron should have been denied entry to Algeria because of his strong support of Israel.

Sheikh Ali Belhadj: Macron's Visit Is "A Soft Colonization, A Robbery Of The Resources Of The Algerian People"

In a video uploaded to YouTube on August 28, 2022, Algerian Islamist politician and former vice-president of the Islamic Salvation Front Sheikh Ali Belhadj strongly condemned Macron's visit and accused the government of Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune of granting France access to the country's resources while only receiving visas to France in return.

Belhadj condemned that Macron was granted access to mosques, cemeteries, temples, and churches and downplayed the absence of Chief Rabbi of France Haim Korsia, who had been part of Macron's delegation before being dropped after testing positive for COVID-19, saying: "There are many in Macron's delegation who can replace Korsia. In fact, I would say, he will be represented by Macron who was created by the Zionists and the Zionist and the financial lobbies."[1]

He noted that Macron was allowed to visit Algeria, "which is still suffering from the legacy of colonization today, [namely] the mujahideen, the sons of the martyrs, the women of martyrs and the daughters of martyrs who have not gotten their rights in their country," despite the fact that he did not apologize to the Algerian people.

Belhadj condemned the Algerian political parties and politicians for not describing Macron's visit as "a soft colonization, a robbery to the resources of the Algerian people and a security and military coordination with a belligerent enemy that neither acknowledged nor apologized nor paid reparations."

Arguing that Macron visited Algeria because he is struggling internally and that France will experience hardship in the coming days, Belhadj said: "Macron came to steal from the thieves and present the resources of the Algerian people to his nation. He came for our gas and oil and for security and military coordination."

Questioning Algeria's opposition to the normalization of relations with Israel, he said: "Did Tebboune not hear that Macron had spoken to Israel's Prime Minister Yair Lapid and told him: We are with Israel. He should have been denied entry to our country; if you are with Israel then do not come to our country. But he was allowed to enter." Condemning the Imam of the Great Mosque of Algiers Mohamed Mamoun El-Kacimi for allowing Macron to enter a mosque, Belhadj noted that El-Kacimi should have told Macron: "You are not allowed to enter the mosque of Algeria. You have disrespected our prophet, our Quran, our Islam, and our religion, and you will not enter the mosque as long as I am alive."

Belhadj concluded his video by vowing that the Algerians will not give up their rights "and if we were to die or be imprisoned, killed or assassinated, our sons and the generations will continue the journey until everything is settled and credit is given where credit is due and France apologizes for its crimes and pays financial and moral reparation for its colonization and the destruction."

Islamic Scholar Abdelfattah Hamadache Zeraoui: France Has To Apologize And Pay Reparations

Algerian Islamic Scholar Abdelfattah Hamadache Zeraoui condemned Macron's visit in a YouTube video uploaded on August 25, 2022[2] in which he criticized the Algerian government for allowing Macron to enter Algeria, saying that the French president had insulted Algeria, and his country wages war against Islam and discriminates against Algerians.

Zeraoui demanded that France apologize and pay reparations, saying: "We will not accept an apology without reparations. Keep your apology to yourself. Our martyrs are considered martyrs by Allah and what you have done is unforgettable. [You left] mountains of skulls and limbs, and valleys and oceans full of blood. We still have blood to avenge that was shed by France. Today, when I saw the French flag in Algeria, I began to shudder. We will never accept the French flag in this country."

Addressing the intention of Macron's visit to Algeria, Zeraoui argued that Macron came to "beg. The situation has become difficult in France. In his speech in France two days ago, he said: 'The coming years will not be like the past ones and I call on the people of France to apply austerity measures.' He came to get gas. France is in crisis."

Zeraoui concluded by asking Allah "to wreak vengeance on them, and on their many descendants who are still in this country... Nevertheless, the future belongs to Islam, and to the honorable and deeply rooted Algerians, who will settle the score with France in a powerful way. We ask Allah to give us a long life until He 'soothes the hearts of the believers.' If not us, then our sons will raise the flag of Islam in the Elysée Palace, inshallah. Our day [of vengeance] will come."

Algerian Political Commentator And Former Diplomat Mohamed Larbi Zitout: France Should Apologize And Pay Reparations To The Algerians As It Did To The Jews

Alongside Belhadj and Zeraoui, Algerian political commentator and former diplomat Mohamed Larbi Zitout called on France to apologize in a YouTube video he uploaded on August 26, 2022. Condemning the political elites in Algeria, he said: "Not one of them told Macron: 'You should apologize for 132 years of limitless crimes committed by your parents and grandparents. You have apologized, paid reparations to and gave millions of things to the Jews who were oppressed for four years in France when it was occupied by the Germans during the Vichy government... We have suffered for 132 years and you still have the upper hand because we are ruled by fools and traitors.'"[3]

Zitout further argued that if there were a real political system in Algeria, it would have demanded Macron to "apologize, repent, pay reparations for 132 years and promise not to repeat it even though we do not believe that they would keep their promises, but at least in order to humiliate them. If we have free men who represent the people... They would have demanded that France clean up tens of thousands of kilometers contaminated and destroyed during your nuclear, biological, and chemical tests that began in the early 1960s and lasted for more than 20 years. If we had a regime that represented the people, it would have demanded that France provide medical treatment and pay reparations to the hundreds of thousands of people who have been diagnosed with cancer and other diseases in the town of Reggane... And in all the places where the trials took place."

Zitout's position was shared by Benabderrahmane Laid, a self-described Algerian politician who published a post on Facebook on August 26, 2022, in which he said that if France "wanted to reconcile with the memory and history not only with an apology and talks, it should: Pass a law to freely treat [Algerian] cancer patients in French hospitals... pay reparations to the victims of nuclear testing and mines, open its archives, especially the part concerning the future generation regarding the tests it conducted in the desert... [establish a] win-win economic partnership in the transformation of mechanical, medical, and farming technology in Algeria... implement a bartering economic system, meaning exchanging materials for materials and not for cash... [exchanging] gas with wheat and gas with gold and unconditional support for Algeria's foreign policy."[4] Laid concluded his post by saying that his listed demands would be "difficult to attain" and it would be difficult to coerce France.

Former Algerian MP Hassina Zedame: France Is In A Weak Position And Algeria Is In A Strong Position

The date of Macron's visit to Algeria was interpreted as having been chosen to circumvent any request for an apology. Former Algerian MP Hassina Zedame published a post on Facebook on August 24, 2022, arguing that Macron's visit corresponded with the anniversary of the attacks carried out by the "mujahideen of the Federal Liberation Front" in France in which 82 French citizens were killed on August 25, 1958. "I think Macron intentionally chose the timing of the visit to block any demands to acknowledge France's crimes against the Algerians."[5] After noting that Macron sought to increase the flow of Algerian gas to replace the interruption of Russian gas, Zedame maintained that "Algeria is in a position of strength and France is in a weak position. France needs Algeria and not the other way around and this is an opportunity that must be seized." In her post, Zedame stressed that France is the "number one enemy of Algeria" and the "enemy of the past, present, and future."

Algerian Patriots Facebook Page: France Will Acknowledge Its Crimes And Apologize To Algeria In A Few Weeks

Supplementing Zedame's argument that France is in a weak position, Facebook page Algerian Patriots predicted in a video published on August 28, 2022, that in a few weeks, France will have no choice but to acknowledge its crimes against the Algerians and to apologize for them if it wants to have normal relations with Algeria.[6] The speaker, who identifies himself as Belqassem, further noted that without an acknowledgment and an apology, Algeria will not normalize its relations with France, which he described as "in dire need of Algeria."

However, some Algerians downplayed the significance of a need for France's apology. For example, BeinSport commentator Hafid Derradji posted a tweet on August 27, 2022, in which he stated that Algeria is "a great nation that is proud of its history, revolution, and its ability to achieve the aspirations of its nation, which are not limited to a mere apology from France for its crimes."[7]

Twitter user Anas ANAS posted a tweet on August 28, 2022, stating: "I am Algerian, a son of a mujahid who was active in the second term in El-Milia and Jijel. I do not want an apology from France or repentance. I would like France to pay a huge reparation to be distributed among poor people in the world so no one would say that we have sold the blood of our martyrs. Vengeance and revenge are legitimate options unless France declares its conversion to Islam, and then we would not be allowed to harm it."[8]


[1], August 28, 2022.

[2], August 25, 2022.

[3], August 26, 2022.

[4], August 26, 2022.

[5], August 24, 2022.

[6], August 28, 2022.

[7], August 27, 2022.

[8], August 28, 2022.

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