Macron Commemorates 1961 Killing of Algerian Protesters by Paris PoliceBreaking News
tags: colonialism, French history, Algeria, Algerian Revolution
President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday became the first French head of state to attend commemorations of the mass killing of Algerian independence protesters by the Paris police 60 years ago, a brutal episode that many historians consider the most violent repression of a peaceful demonstration in contemporary Western Europe.
Despite a death toll now estimated to be as high as 200, the French authorities avoided mention of the killings until President François Hollande acknowledged them in October 2012.
Activists and historians hoped that Mr. Macron would go further and acknowledge not only the responsibility of the police, but also that of the state in covering up what a court has since described as a massacre.
“He should recognize the state massacre,” Mohammed Harbi, a historian of the Algerian war of independence, told Le Monde newspaper. “This cannot be avoided.”
But in a statement released shortly after the ceremony, Mr. Macron’s office fell short of doing so, instead holding only the Paris police responsible and refraining from calling the killings a massacre.
“The crimes committed that night under the authority of Maurice Papon are inexcusable for the Republic,” the statement read, referring to the Paris police chief who ordered the suppression of the protest.
Mr. Macron’s presence at the commemorations comes against a tense political backdrop in the prelude to next year’s presidential election: The country’s colonial past in Algeria is a trauma that continues to haunt and shape France, with nostalgia on the right and resentment among the country’s large Muslim population.