Rabat – French extreme right leader and presidential candidate, Marine Le Pen, has created another controversy by praising the French colonization of Algeria.
In an interview with BFM TV-RMC, the National Front leader said that “(French) colonization gave a lot to former colonies, especially Algeria.”
Of all former French colonies, Algeria was the one that paid the heaviest price for its independence. Nicknamed “the country of 1 million martyrs,” in reference to people who died during the country’s war for liberation, Algeria has remained sensitive to its colonial past.
Occasional statements by French politicians and intellectuals praising France’s role in its former colonies are typically met with strong comments by Algerian officials and media.
Marine Le Pen’ statements about Algeria are regularly reported in the local press where they are described as “provocative” and “offensive.” Her latest comment is expected to trigger a similar reaction.
During the interview with BFM RMC TV, the French presidential hopeful said that Algeria owes a lot to French occupation. Thanks to colonization, she said, Algeria has “hospitals, roads and schools… Many Algerians of good faith admit that.”
Le Pen made more “provocative” statements about Algeria when she praised the “Harkis,” Algerians who fought with the French during occupation.
Tens of thousands of “Harkis” were repatriated to France in the aftermath of Algeria’s independence, but were left to live in camps or forests. Many others remained in Algeria where they were victims of reprisals from Algerian nationalists whom they saw as “traitors.” Both in France and Algeria, “Harkis’’ and their families felt forsaken by the French government.
“I defend the Harkis along with those who were repatriated. I think they were ill-treated and ill-received in their country. For Harkis it was even worse because they were place in camps and lived in horrible conditions,” said Le Pen.