A highlight from France and Algeria: can you pardon the past?
Hard-core Colonial occupations and broadly similar enterprises are very often framed as a simple binary contest between the invading force usually portrayed as malign rapacious and ruthless and the local resistance traditionally depicted as noble heroic and selfless. It is usually rather more complicated. It is next to impossible for any occupier. However militarily mighty to impose themselves upon a completely and resolutely uncooperative territory. They require an amount of local assistance and they usually find it. This reliably recurring factor is very often written out of popular history. Few indians would boast of dissent from a soldier in the east. India company's army the viet cong lionized in a way that the vn on not a native american may well prefer to believe that their ancestors fought against custer at little bighorn rather than scouted for him and everybody in france would rather think that their grandparents were in the resistance. Nobody enjoys the odium gathers about the collaborator. Not least because not. Everybody deserves it to cite one example from extremely recent memory. It would require an absurd moral dogmatism to insist that the many thousands of afghans who fought alongside the united states and its allies against the repressive fanatics of the taliban will on the wrong side. President emmanuel macron of france has this week been soliciting forgiveness of the hockey's the algerians who took francis side during algeria's war of independence. This is not one of those recently. Fashionable historical apologies whereby country expresses regret for misdeeds. long past. This is well within living memory. Branch was at peace for the first time since nineteen thirty nine. As far as charles de gaulle's government brought the war to an end in algeria. The conflict lasted approximately from nine hundred. Fifty four to nineteen sixty two and some hockey's are still with us. Hundreds of thousands of hockey's fought to keep algeria french and lost after the algerian war. France perhaps in haste to put the unpleasantness behind it substantially abandoned the hockey's only forty. Two thousand were permitted to relocate to france and they were confined for years to prison camps and restricted to menial labor. Many of hockey's left in. Algeria was subject to extremely rough justice. Nobody knows the number tortured and or arbitrarily executed but nobody doubts that it runs into many thousands. Their descendants remained subject to discrimination in france and in algeria. We let humiliated. They banned my hands and feet the algerian war walls first and foremost a trauma for algeria. But it was no small change for france which may be why. France has since struggled to acknowledge the realities and the legacy of the conflict. It would be tempting to describe algeria as francis vietnam. Were not for the fact. That vietnam had by then already been francis vietnam at the time. The algerian war caused considerable political turmoil. In one thousand nine hundred fifty eight indeed. It led to the collapse of francis fourth republic and fears in some quarters of a french civil war. Disgruntled french army officers staged a coup d'etat. In algeria landed paratroopers on corsica and prepared to march on paris. An outcome forestalled by the return to power of world. War two leaders shells to gold in accordance with the plotters wishes in the minds of millions. Years the only possible. Save it of his country. Millions of others represents the thin end of the wedge job military dictatorship and fascism in nineteen sixty one. Dozens of people were killed in paris when police responded brutally to protesters demonstrating in favor of algeria's national liberation front many drowned after being savagely beaten and thrown into the sane president macron is not the first occupant of his office to have made efforts towards reconciliation. With the hockey's president. Jack sherack declared a day. September twenty fifth in their honor president. Nicolas sarkozy and francois are all on both acknowledged francis shabby treatment of its allies on the wall the harkless have the right to disrespect and is recognition and have the right to be told that at the time the authorities of the french republic didn't behave well towards those they should have protected. I don't want to sue key so a petition. President macron has gone further kilos of earlier this week he addressed an audience of three hundred surviving hockey's and their families at the palace. He asked for their forgiveness and promised laws to recognize they contribution and francis responsibility to honor. It will be on as for microns reasons for addressing this matter. It's always possible. It sometimes is in politics. That he simply believes it. The right thing to do it would fit the pattern of macron's previous apologetic and conciliatory gestures and statements regarding france's nuclear testing in the south pacific. Up until the mid nineteen ninety s francis about the looming genocide in rwanda in one thousand nine hundred eighty four and indeed french war crimes in algeria last. Gm macron commissioned the historian benjamin stora to report on francis handling of its colonial legacy but macron will also be aware that the hockey's as a demographic tend politically towards the hardcore nationalist perhaps ironically given how the nation has treated them but there it is and macron knows that his most prominent opponent in next year's presidential election is likely to be marine le pen a