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Ali Boumendjel’s widow Malika Boumendjel with two of her children, May 5, 2001. ERIC FEFERBERG / AFP
” Finally. “ ” It was time. “ These are the first words spontaneously spoken by part of the Algerian diaspora in France after the official recognition, Tuesday March 2, by Emmanuel Macron of the assassination of Ali Boumendjel. A feeling of relief commensurate with the passage of time: sixty-four years after this crime, the Head of State admitted the responsibility of the French army in the death of the Algerian nationalist lawyer, “Tortured then murdered”, on March 23, 1957, by the military in the midst of the Battle of Algiers.
“It was a good surprise”, rejoices Karima Dirèche, historian and researcher at the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS). “Mr. Macron recognized this assassination by receiving the grandchildren of Boumendjel at the Elysee Palace, it is a great initiative, estimates Djamel Atallah, a 57-year-old Parisian consultant who regularly demonstrates in support of Hirak, the Algerian popular protest movement born in February 2019. We see that he is a man who tries, even in small steps, to reconcile the two shores of the Mediterranean, so that he did not live through the Algerian war and that he must face strong opposition, in particular those nostalgic for French Algeria. ”
Article reserved for our subscribers Read also Emmanuel Macron “recognizes” the responsibility of France in the assassination of Ali Boumendjel in Algeria
Since his election, Mr. Macron has started “A work of truth” on the Algerian war. In September 2018, he recognized the responsibility of the State in the death of Maurice Audin, an independence activist mathematician killed in June 1957 by the French military. He returned to Algiers, in July 2020, twenty-four skulls of resistance fighters beheaded in the 19th century.e century and stored in the Museum of Man in Paris. And entrusted the historian Benjamin Stora with a mission on “The memory of colonization and the Algerian war”, whose conclusions, submitted on January 20, propose twenty-two memorial gestures such as the recognition by France of the assassination of Ali Boumendjel.
“Colonial project as a whole”
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“Macron is in action when his predecessors were in the word, recognizes Fouad Miloudi, 29, president of Algerian Students and Executives in France (ECAF), for whom “We must now move towards the recognition of colonial crimes”. « I arrived in France at the age of 18 and I was surprised to see that my comrades knew nothing about the colonial conquest ”, he emphasizes. “The diaspora expects a just full and complete recognition of the colonial project as a whole”, abounds Badis Khenissa, president of the Club Emergences think tank.
Beyond the quest for truth, this recognition would make it possible to “Recreate bridges” between France and Algeria, considers Kamel Mouellef, author of comics on Algerian skirmishers engaged in the two world wars. For this 65-year-old Lyonnais, the memory work undertaken by the Head of State should also address the reasons which pushed France to colonize Algeria in 1830. “It is not a matter of repentance or apologies. I want the French to understand what happened in Algeria, he advances. There will always be nostalgic for the OAS [Organisation de l’armée secrète], but we are going in the right direction. We must succeed in turning the page. “
Read also Recognition of the assassination of Ali Boumendjel by France: in Algeria, many other families “await the truth about their missing children”
The historian Karima Dirèche wants to believe that it is possible and perceives the recognition of the assassination of Ali Boumendjel as “A gesture of appeasement that echoes discrimination” what can the Algerian diaspora live in France, “Especially in the current climate of accusation of separatism and attacks against Islam”. Karima Dirèche wonders if the Head of State is not “Reconnect” with the candidate in the presidential election, which, during a trip to Algiers in 2017, qualified the colonization of ” crime against humanity “ and of “Real barbarism”. “I voted for him in 2017 because he said that”, confides Fouad Miloudi, for whom the memorial acts of Mr. Macron will undoubtedly bring him the votes of Algerians of France in the next presidential election. “It is an electorate that must be pampered”, confirms Karima Dirèche.
Within the diaspora, we now hope for other gestures from the Head of State such as access to archives. “We had known for twenty years that Boumendjel had been killed by the French soldiers, rappelle Fouad Miloudi. We would now like to know things that we do not know. “
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