France to amend contested law on colonial past and establish national day of remembrance for slavery
Mr Chirac, who plans to run for re-election in 2007, also announced the establishment of a slavery remembrance day in France - on a date to be announced later this year. "The question of slavery is a wound for a large number of our fellow citizens, in particular overseas," he said. "France has set an example by being the first country in the world - and still the only one today - to recognise slavery as a crime against humanity. I have decided to establish a day of remembrance in France."
But during a New Year address, Mr Chirac said the law was "dividing the French" and should be rewritten.
The president also urged compatriots to believe in themselves and to stop indulging in "self-flagellation".
He said France was a great nation and had every reason to be proud of itself.
The colonial history law was passed by the conservative-led parliament in February last year.
Overseas minister Francois Baroin told France Inter radio the law was a sore point for French people whose families came from the former colonies.
Around 44,000 people signed a petition calling for the law to be scrapped.
Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy was forced to cancel a planned trip to France's Caribbean islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe by the risk of angry protests, according to AFP.
Mr Chirac, who ordered the law to be reviewed last month, said the National Assembly speaker would table a bill for the law to be rewritten "and come up with a wording which will bring people together and put their minds at rest".
"I want this approach to be part of a more general thinking process because history must not be written by law," he said.
comments powered by Disqus
- Hull of Confederate Submarine H.L. Hunley Found 150 Years Later
- U.S. Textbook Skews History, Prime Minister of Japan Says
- Recalling a Film From the Liberation of the Camps
- Skull Fossil Offers New Clues on Human Journey From Africa
- Are crude conspiracies right? Research shows nations really do go to war over oil
- Ronald Suny says historians have shied away from exploring the roots of the Armenian genocide for fear of taking attention away from the victims
- Columbia University professors Eric Foner, Alan Brinkley, and Alice Kessler-Harris to retire
- A powerhouse appropriations subcommittee is now headed by a historian: Republican Rep. Tom Cole (OK)
- Slavic scholars divided over a scholarship sponsored (and withdrawn) by Stephen F. Cohen
- Claire Strom to Step Down as Editor of Agricultural History