Benjamin Stora’s Report Ignites The Memory War Again!
The French President, Emmanuel Macron, looked for ways to end the wars of memory between Algeria and France, but he ignited them, whether he knows it or not, he awakened the strife that was sleeping among some of the “demons” of the French side.
French elite and media, and since the historian Benjamin Stora deposited his disappointing report with the French presidency, they have not ceased to justify the absence of Algeria’s most important demand, in support of Emmanuel Macron’s decision, refusing to offer an apology for his country’s colonial past in Algeria, and doubting that reconciliation between memories would happen, as the French party makes it a goal.
Among the historians who delved into the depths of Benjamin Stora’s report, is the historian Guy Pervillé, who considered the Algerian party’s requirement of an “apology” to the French as a factor hindering the hoped-for reconciliation, in an interview with the French daily “Le Monde”.
“I Doubt that reconciliation will take place, and the difficulty lies in the fact that Algeria has locked itself since independence in the official memory, which is considered an extension of the memory of the Nationalist Party, the National Liberation Front, which arose and grew up in a time of war by other means”, says the historian, Guy Pervillé, who concluded with the conviction: “I still do not see the slightest sign of a fundamental truce in the French-Algerian relationships over the memory of the War of Independence”.
For this historian, specializing in Algerian affairs, the demand for France to apologize for its colonial crimes in Algeria emerged at a time when Algerian-French relationships were in crisis, and its flag was raised by the May 8, 1945 Foundation nearly three decades ago, which was founded by the late Bachir Boumaaza. This institution aimed to get France to admit that its suppression of the demonstrators on May 8, 1945, was “a crime against humanity and not a war crime”.
This demand (apology), according to Pervillé, was adopted by the Algerian government in 1995 against the background of the bilateral tensions that characterized relations between Algeria and Paris during the black decade, before the demand developed and the Algerian people embraced it, in retaliation against France.
Benjamin Stora’s report, not only ignited the debate on the Algiers-Paris axis, but also strengthened the demands of some right-wing circles in France itself, and the reference here is to an old demand of the Harkis towards the French government, which is accused of leaving this group to its fate following the signing of the ceasefire agreement on March 19, 1962, a demand that some parties try to legislate by the French President in a law.
It is known that the Stora report talked about the responsibility of the Algerian and French governments to enable the Harkis and their families to visit their hometowns in Algeria, a demand that Algeria has been rejecting strongly since independence, even if some of them visited Algeria with French identities in earlier times.
The controversy raised by the Stora’s report indicates that Algeria did not benefit in anything from it, but rather increased a burden that would raise the level of tension in relationships with Paris.