France will establish a “memories and truth” commission to review the country’s colonial history in Algeria, following a key recommendation in a new, much-anticipated report commissioned by President Emmanuel Macron and released on Wednesday. The report also presented a series of other proposals to address longstanding grievances. But it ruled out issuing an official apology for the past, and the proposals avoided the question of systemic torture by French forces, which Mr. Macron has already acknowledged. The report said its purpose was to achieve a “reconciliation of memories between France and Algeria,” two countries divided not by just the Mediterranean Sea but also by deep animosity stemming from years of colonization and an independence war that left hundreds of thousands dead. The report was written by the French historian Benjamin Stora, who will now head the commission. He said the report focused on a series of concrete actions to “lift the lid” on a range of issues left behind by France’s colonial past and the Algerian War. The French colonial past in Algeria is a trauma that continues to shape modern France, with nostalgia on the right and resentment among the European country’s large Muslim population. The millions of residents in France who, to varying degrees, have ties to Algeria have competing memories of colonial history and the war, making an official clarification politically risky.
SOURCE: THE NEW YORK TIMES