World Bulletin / News Desk
French presidential frontrunner Emmanuel Macron on Thursday defended his comments that France’s colonization of Algeria was "a crime against humanity”.
Macron's remarks to an Algerian broadcaster sparked outrage among his conservative and far-right rivals.
“It’s a crime. It’s a crime against humanity,” the former economy minister told Algerian television Echorouk on Tuesday in an interview.
Algeria gained independence from France in 1962 after a bloody eight-year war.
Macron, a former economy minister and centrist independent candidate, founded his own political movement “En Marche!” (On the move) last April and has surpassed conservative presidential candidate Francois Fillon in the polls.
“It’s truly barbarous and it’s part of a past that we need to confront by apologizing to those against whom we committed these acts,” Macron told the Algerian channel.
“At the same time, we must not sweep this past under the rug…There’s a fitting phrase that is said about Algeria: ‘France established human rights in Algeria. It simply forgot to [abide] by them,’” he added.
Macron also said he hoped to promote "reconciliation of memories" between the two countries. He also made a stop at the Martyrs' Memorial in Algiers which commemorates the country’s war of independence.
However, conservative rival Fillon slammed Macron’s comments and said: “This hatred of our history, this perpetual repentance, that is unworthy of a candidate for the presidency of the republic."
Florian Philippot, vice-president of the far-right National Front, tweeted on Wednesday: “Mr. Macron, are roads, hospitals, French language and French culture crimes against humanity? Stop this constant repentance!”
Macron defends Algeria remarks
Macron defended the comments in a video released on his movement's official website on Thursday evening.
He said: "Are we today condemned to live forever in the shadow of this trauma between these two countries?"
"It's time to close this grief. Therefore we should have the courage to say things."
Macron said he was not targeting former French soldiers but was acknowledging “a responsibility of the French state".
"Our responsibility today is to reconcile memories in order to found a new relationship between France and Algeria."
France has never officially apologized for its 132-year, often-bloody colonization of Algeria.
During a 2012 visit to Algeria, French President Francois Hollande acknowledged his country’s “unjust and brutal” regime in the North African country.
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