Algerian deputies have presented a bill to criminalize the French colonization of their country between 1830 and 1962, on the sidelines of the escalating crisis between Algiers and Paris.
Zakaria Belkheir, the coordinator of the bill said, “The document was handed over to the Committee on Legislative and Parliamentary Initiatives in the Presidency of the National People’s Assembly, and was signed by more than 100 deputies.”
He explained: “The next step will be the holding of a meeting of the Initiatives Committee at the Presidency of the Parliament to study the project and decide its fate by transferring it to the government for examination.”
Also, he clarified that “the deputies who signed the bill belong to different political currents.”
The draft comprises six chapters and 54 articles, and its Article 23 states that “the Algerian state calls the French authorities to apologize to the Algerian people for the harm they suffered during the colonial period.”
Meanwhile, Article 49 states that “the Algerian state is bound not to conclude an agreement with France until the conditions for recognizing its colonial crimes are met.”
Paris refuses to issue an official apology.
In the section on penal provisions, the draft provides for a sentence of six months to two years in prison for any Algerian who glorifies French colonialism by any means of expression whatsoever.
In 2009, initial attempts by Algerian deputies to enact a law criminalizing French colonialism failed. It is claimed by opponents that the previous regime, led by Abdelaziz Bouteflika, froze it for political reasons.
In the event that the bill receives the approval of the government, it will be put to the vote of the Parliament, and it will come into force if it receives at least 51 percent of the votes.
This bill coincides with the escalation of a crisis with France, after statements by its president, Emmanuel Macron, qualified as “offensive”, as he challenged the history of Algeria, which has encouraged the latter to recall its ambassador stationed in Paris and to prohibit French military planes from flying over its airspace.