On Wednesday, in light of France’s release of a new report on the history of colonization and the Algerian War, a close adviser to French President Emmanuel Macron stated that France will not formally apologize for its colonization of the North African country; however, it will commemorate the brutal history of its occupation.
Algeria demanded an apology from France for the violence and discrimination the people have suffered under French occupation, but in response Macron’s adviser said: “repentance is vanity, recognition is the truth. Truth is built with actions.”
The sensitive issue in France saw a polarized response, with those on the far-right defending the country’s colonial past.
In November, the French Prime Minister Jean Castex jeered at the Algerian demands, calling them an attempt to appease Islamic terrorists.
The French statements were received with anger in Algeria and the rest of the Arab World; Egyptian Actor Khaled El Sawy expressed his discontent on Twitter with several tweets that voiced the rage and regret that all Arab countries feel.
“I am full of resentment towards France’s refusal to apologize to Algeria. This time I am not making a distinction between people, government, and institutions. Today, after what I have been saying for years came true, there are two crucial things that need to be understood:
First, our countries have a right to reparations from the colonial powers that have robbed us, crippled us, and diluted our characters to a great extent.
Second, their forbearers have inherited us with destitute, humiliation, and underdevelopment. Today, they are the greatest of learners and the most active of researchers. Now, that their regimes and populations are silent in face of this injustice, we must act and take back our dignity.
We will keep on resisting and demanding what is rightfully ours, and let us leave our children with wisdom and resistance for these are the weapons of the oppressed.”
El Sawy’s comments spread like wildfire on Twitter, and soon, hundreds were inspired to express themselves as well.
Many, in the Arab World and abroad, are now calling for reparations for the years of injustice that so-called “underdeveloped countries” suffered on the hands of “developed countries” during the reign of terror that was colonization.
For 132 years, France occupied Algeria with an iron fist. The complex history between these two countries is marred with violence and blood. Algerians did not achieve independence until 1962, after a seven-year-war that claimed the lives of millions. To this day, in the Arab World, Algeria is known as “the country of a million martyrs.”