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For many historians, Emmanuel Macron’s statement on Saturday is a disappointment. The president ultimately did not qualify the massacre of Algerians in Paris on October 17, 1961 as a “state crime”. In France, the right and the far right have denounced a declaration perceived as a new act of repentance, while in Algeria, President Tebboune has castigated the “chronic” colonialism of France.

“Inexcusable crimes for the Republic”. The words of Emmanuel Macron, Saturday October 16, published by press release on the occasion of the commemoration of the massacre of Algerians in Paris on October 17, 1961, aroused a number of reactions among activists, historians, as well as the political class, sometimes in a contradictory way. The president, who considers having “recognized the facts”, has been criticized for not having qualified as a “state crime” the bloody repression of the peaceful demonstration in Paris which killed dozens of people 60 years ago. On the right, political figures have castigated the commemoration of the head of state, denouncing excessive repentance.

Recognition “below” expectations

It is “a small step which will allow Emmanuel Macron not to make a bigger one”, estimates Olivier Le Cour Grandmaison, president of the association October 17, 1961: against oblivion and professor of political science at Paris-Saclay University, on France 24.

>> To read, our webdoc: October 17, 1961, a massacre of Algerians in the heart of Paris

“Emmanuel Macron’s declaration falls far short of what we were entitled to expect,” he denounces, judging that the massacre of Algerian demonstrators on October 17, 1961 is undeniably a state crime. “Believe or only make believe for a moment that Maurice Papon [alors préfet de police de Paris, NDLR] was able to act throughout the month of October 1961, and on October 17 in particular, of his free initiative and that the responsibility of the Prime Minister and therefore of the government as a whole is not engaged is a bad fable. “

The Elysee press release, published after the commemoration, indicates that the Head of State “recognized the facts: the crimes committed that night under the authority of Maurice Papon are inexcusable for the Republic”.

But the historian specializing in the colonial history of France Gilles Manceron also considers the declaration of President Macron insufficient, recalling that it was the Prime Minister of the time, Michel Debré, who decreed before the massacre, “a cover -Discriminatory fire reserved for Algerians only “.

“It is a state crime, it is not a prefectural crime”, he says on France 24, regretting, moreover, that a number of archives have not yet been made accessible by France .

Emmanuel Macron’s statement criticized from all sides

On Sunday, historian Benjamin Stora, author of the report on the memory of colonization and the Algerian war submitted to the Elysee Palace in January 2021, defended the president’s approach, judging that it constitutes an “advance” : “It is the first time that a head of state in office uses the word ‘crime’ and attaches it to the question of the State and therefore to the Republic”, he declared on France Inter .

“Victim propaganda”

On October 17, 1961, a peaceful demonstration of some 30,000 Algerians, at the call of the French federation of the FLN, was bloodily suppressed by the police chief Maurice Papon. The number of dead is estimated by historians at at least several dozen, some of whom were shot and thrown into the Seine.

On the right, some political figures nevertheless consider that Emmanuel Macron indulges in a form of excessive repentance. “President Macron’s anti-French victim propaganda is indecent. We are still awaiting the President’s commemoration of the Oran massacre of July 5, 1962, where the FLN massacred several hundred Pied-Noirs and Harkis loyal to France,” he added. is indignant Éric Ciotti, deputy Les Républicains des Alpes-Maritimes.

For her part, the president of the National Rally criticized Emmanuel Macron for an approach that was too gentle towards Algeria. “While Algeria insults us every day, Emmanuel Macron continues to belittle our country. These repetitive repentances are becoming unbearable and threatening the image of France!”, Marine Le Pen reacted on his Twitter account.

>> To read also: From Algeria to Rwanda, the “recognition policy” by Emmanuel Macron

Algeria rejects “colonialist thought”

These commemorations in France take place in a context of strong tensions with Algiers on multiple files, including the memorial issue and the immigration file. At the beginning of October, Algeria decided to “immediate” recall its ambassador to Paris, Mohamed Antar-Daoud, after remarks by Emmanuel Macron, reported by the French newspaper Le Monde, which accused the Algerian “politico-military” system to maintain a “memorial rent” by serving its people an “official history” which “is not based on truths”.

Refraining from commenting on the words of the French president on Saturday after the commemoration, Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune rejected “colonialist thought” in the treatment of historical issues with France, in a message broadcast for the 60th anniversary of the massacre of October 17, 1961 in Paris.

“I reaffirm our firm concern to deal with the issues of History and memory, without complacency or compromise and with a keen sense of responsibility (…) far from the infatuation and the predominance of arrogant colonialist thought by lobbies unable to free themselves from their chronic extremism, “he said in a statement posted on the Algerian presidency’s website.

With AFP


France 24-Trans

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