Colonized people fought for the independence throughout the 20th century. This is unveiled in most African countries which struggled for independence in the 20th century (Maran, 89). This followed the First World War which led to serious effects on European empires. There was both peaceful and bloody resistance to the colonial domination in African countries as they started reclaiming their own identity. In this context, the case study will be about Algeria, the main reasons why the Algerian nationalists fought for independence and the conflicts which resulted in the attempt to reclaim their own identity.
The war for independence in Algeria begun in 1954 and ended in June 1962 when the French left the country. On 5 July 1962, it was declared independent. A series of events happened during this period while the Algerians were trying to reclaim what belonged to them and resist the press of the French government and settlers who conducted dehumanizing actions in order to repress the Algerians (Robert 199).
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Battle of Algiers
According to the film “Battle of Algiers”, the Algerians sought independence from the French colonialists. This exposed the freedom fighters to torture, but in contrast, the Algerians used bombs to destroy soda shops. The sanguinary war between the Algerians and the French colonialists touched upon and caused harm to everyone who participated in it. In the movie, National Liberation Front of Algiers shot many French policemen, which marked the beginning of the movement for independence. In addition to this, the police chief planted a bomb inside the Arab quarter, which killed many dwellers. The National Liberation Front sent three women armed with bombs to the Air France office in European quarter and two bars, which killed many people.
The film portrays how the French government reacted by sending military forces under the very abusive command of Colonel Mathieu who never put into consideration the importance of human rights and destroyed the command of NLF by torturing them. All this happened in 1954 portraying the beginning of Algeria. According to Ageron (102), Algeria is an African country situated between Tunisia and Morocco. Algeria is the second biggest country in Africa after Sudan. In the year 1834, France conquered Algeria and established a colony in North Africa. The French became settlers and started controlling the arable land hence keeping Algerians at the lowest position in the society.
For this reason, they were unable to vote, acquire good jobs or give their opinion in matters relating to the running of their country. During the Second World War, many Algerian men fought as French soldiers. This caused Muslim Algerians to realize that there was no equity in the country because their votes were not equal to other Algerians. This was after the creation of Algerian assembly, which consisted of 120 members only. Among the members, Muslim designated only 50% despite the massive population of 9 million Muslims while 900,000 non-Muslim designated the other half. Algerian Muslims organized a movement called National Liberation Front (NLF) to struggle for independence (Ageron 104).
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Maran 200 also stated that due to this, more than half a million troops from France were flown in and stationed all over Algeria in order to suppress the rebellion against the French colonialists. In 1958, Charles Gaulle was made and installed as president of France, and as Algeria was at war this time, he developed a proposal on maintaining Algeria as a metropolitan part of France but granted Muslims the right to become citizens. The French colonialists in Algeria resisted, and this led to the eruption of war between the Algeria Muslims and French colonialists.
Conditions that Led to the Fight for Algeria’s Independence
Other than being treated unequally in voting processes, job allocation and contribution to the state, the Algerians were also cruelly treated in other circumstances such as dispossession and massacres. This was seen in the late 1830s when the French rule in Algeria was specifically entrusted to the military. They were ordered to facilitate the European settlers’ immigration to Algeria and also to pacify the nation by all means. During this time, the Algerians were tracked down, humiliated, tortured or killed while others were expelled from their native land and villages. All this was done under the authority of General Thomas Bugeaud who also conducted a very long campaign against the people of Algeria because they were resistant (Martin 77).
Eventually, he defeated the Algerians because he allowed and encouraged the troops under his command to commit very horrible crimes. For example, burning the Algerians alive, asphyxiating them in caves, and raids on villages, which was done systematically. On the same token, the raiding troops destroyed stole and burned properties, livestock and foods. They also raped women and killed all the villagers in massive numbers. The Algerian massacre took place in the year 1945 when the demonstrators met very hostile physical attacks and gun fires from both French security forces and settlers. This was at the end of the Second World War in Europe where massive peaceful demonstrations were organized. On May 2 of the same year, there was a demonstration throughout Algeria with people raising their concerns on the demand for independence (Martin, 79).
According to Manfred (120), the most talked about demonstration happened in northeastern cities of Setif, Guelma, and Kherratta. The Algerians who were carrying the then-prohibited national flag were shot to death by policemen. The commander of the military division of the province, General Duval called in the paratroopers and the air force. They quickly responded to demonstrators with extreme violence when approximately 45,000 Algerians were brutally killed within the first few days. The State-sanctioned torture by the French army and police killed many Algerians with no mercy. The torturing techniques used were sodomy with wood or glass objects, hanging by hands and feet, electricity application to sensitive body parts, and burning bodies with cigarettes.
Ageron (143) also argued that it is not only the Algerians in Algeria that were tortured but also the Algerians in Diaspora because they sympathized with their nation mates. For example, the creation of Vincennes camp in 1959 where hundreds of Algerians were imprisoned without a lawsuit and exposed to the horrible treatment. In the year 1961, the Algerian nationalists who had been recruited and worked as militants held a peaceful match in Paris. They demanded independence for Algeria. Unfortunately, their peaceful show of solidarity abruptly turned into a real slaughter. The police charged protesters with night sticks and gun fires killing over 200 immigrants by throwing them into the river of Seine.
Economic and Social Destruction
The French did not only violate the people of Algeria during colonization, they also dispossessed their economy and dislocated them socially. This was when the French decided to colonize and transform Algeria into their own land. The French destructed the existing economic system and social structures. All this was forcefully done by passing laws which ejected rustic families and communities from their tribal land. According to the Algerians, this land was not condemned under the operative customs and laws. The French did all this to quench their agricultural interest. The eviction of the Algerian ancestral lands was massive, and the majority of Algerians could not practice subsistence farming, which was their main source of food (Manfred, 123).
Those who were lucky landed insecure employment with European-owned properties which grew from natural resources. The French would impose collective punishment as a regular way to snatch more land from the local population. This resulted to Europeans gaining complete control of the big percentage of Algeria’s land by the end of the 19th century. In addition to this, the few Algerians who retained their arable land were heavily tasked. They were victimized by many bureaucratic and natural calamities that they could barely subsist. The French went further and amplified their citizenship to European settlers and Algerian Jews but excluded Muslim Algerians from their right of citizenship (Ageron, 144).
Apart from this, they also created a differentiation between Berber Algerians and Arabs by promoting Berber over the Arabic language. This was because Berber was a unific mode for the Algerian nationalism. As a condition of colonialism in Algeria, they had no option but to fight for their independence. The struggle for the Algerian independence took place after Second World War, which was to end imperialism and colonialism. In this essence, Algeria fought for exploitation colonialism meaning exploitation of natural resources and the native population. Algeria land is very wealthy, and despite all this, they could not farm in their native land. They were treated like slaves in their motherland and in addition to this, they were executed without a reason so that they could surrender their lands to the French colonists. They also contributed to the deterioration of their economy because everything they extracted from Algeria was not used for the development of this country but the development of their countries (Ageron, 110).
In conclusion, Algeria is a country that has experienced challenges in the past during the colonization period. Despite this, it is still among the developing countries because the French misused its natural resources. This means that Algeria lost all resources that could have boosted its economy. With their independence, they were able to develop their country using natural resources. For this reason, its economy is rising rapidly empowering citizens with skills and ideas through their new economy and job opportunities. Every citizen now has the right to citizenship and to exercise his/her freedom in terms of working towards developing the country. The Algerians have hope and strength, and their country remains independent today.
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