Speaking in an interview with the TV station Echourouk News during a trip to Algeria, French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron called France's colonisation of Algeria a crime against humanity. France must apologise to the inhabitants of its former colonies, Macron said. Will his words lead to wounds being healed or is he just using history to win votes?
Risky distortion of history
Le Figaro is appalled by the liberal presidential candidate's remark:
“Lumping things together like that is inexcusable. It shows once again that Emmanuel Macron has fallen into the trap that the Algerian government has been trying to get France to step into since 1962 [and Algerian independence]: pushing our country ever further in the direction of repentance to the point of forcing an apology. None of our leaders has ceded to this dogged blackmail. But now the En marche! candidate has taken this step in Algeria. ... Falsifying the history of colonialism for a few votes is not only reprehensible. It's also a very dangerous game when too many young people with immigrant backgrounds, lacking orientation and any culture to speak of, already hate our country and act as if the police represent an occupying force on 'their' territory. It is certainly not by caricaturing the past that Emmanuel Macron will give them a better future.”
A necessary breach of taboo
Macron's words are a salutary message, Le Temps counters:
“Regardless of Macron's electoral goal of securing the notorious and vital votes of those in the banlieues, and even if the colonists' goal wasn't to wipe out entire populations, France's Algerian wounds will never heal without the intensive truth cure and 'reconciliation of memories' defended by the former economics minister in Algiers. The current Algerian leaders' sordid manipulation of the past in order to defend their mistakes and material gains and the growing violence in the country is unjustifiable. As the decisive presidential election approaches, the French melting pot has nothing to gain from becoming divided over such taboos.”