Algeria marks 50 years of independence


People lay floral tributes at the memorial to late Algerian president Mohamed Boudiaf a week before the country marked 50 years of independence from France on July 5, 2012. Boudiaf was assassinated on June 29, 1992, after only six months as president.


Farouk Batiche

Algeria today marks 50 years of freedom from French rule, a politicized event as the Muslim North African nation has yet to reconcile with its former sovereign following the two nation's vicious eight-year war, reported The Associated Press

Algeria says 1.5 million people were killed in the 1954-1962 war, but some historians say the figure may be closer to 300,000-400,000, which is "still more than the number of French killed in World War I," noted AP.

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Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is commemorating the event today at a monument dedicated to "martyrs" of the "revolution," the term used there to refer to the war, according to AP. There are also plans for a huge concert this evening.

In France, Paris' National Army Museum has put up a new exhibition dedicated to the "complicated" decades of French colonial rule, which aside from "some vague attempts at balance" is "mostly a tribute to a Gallic army putting natives in their place," Nabila Ramdani editorialized in The Guardian.

"Though there are graphic pictures of FLN [National Liberation Front] activists being tortured, the display as a whole fails to address what this dark period did for relations between the two countries," according to Ramdani

The Associated Press said the museum's "Algeria 1830-1962" exhibit is "perhaps the closest public reckoning France has made of the darkest period of its colonial history," underscoring how far the two nations have to go when it comes to addressing their controversial shared history. 

French historian Benjamin Stora said the event shows that "the more time passes, the more memory returns," a problem that "must be treated," telling AP from Paris today that the issue won't simply disappear "by magic."

Algeria declared independence from France on July 5, 1962.