the 50th anniversary of its independence from France this week, all eyes are on the former colonial power's new president, François Hollande. Nine countries asked to join the party in Algiers -- including the United States, which conveyed American gratitude to three-term President Abdelaziz Bouteflika for Algeria's "key role" in global counterterrorism and regional security. The French government sent no representatives to the opening ceremony, held in Algiers on July 5, but said that Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius would travel there soon to advance a late-summer visit by Hollande, raising expectations that a turning point is near in the prickly post-colonial relationship.
Some anticipate that Hollande could become the first French president to apologize formally for more than a century of colonization and hundreds of thousands of war dead beteen 1830 to 1962. Officials in Algiers say a full and frank apology is long overdue. Should they expect normalization of Franco-Algerian relations from a leader who billed himself in the campaign as "président normal" -- in stark contrast to his predecessor, the frenetic Nicolas Sarkozy?
Hollande is the first French president with an explicitly post-colonial mindset. He was 10 weeks old when Algeria's National Liberation Front (FLN) took up arms against French occupation. His predecessor, Sarkozy, may be a year younger, but during his presidency he had no time for what he called "eternal repentance." And his party colleagues in parliament even passed a law praising colonialism's "positive role."
Hollande, on the other hand, has long been on conciliatory and friendly terms with Algeria. As a student, he interned in the French embassy there in 1978, and he returned to Algiers as a guest of the ruling FLN while he was Socialist Party secretary in 2006, where he was granted a lengthy meeting with Bouteflika. Two weeks after declaring his presidential candidacy in December 2010, Hollande returned to meet with the father of Algerian independence, Ahmed Ben Bella.
During those visits, Hollande forcefully condemned French colonialism as "an inequitable and oppressive system" that "must be condemned without reservation." The day he received his party's nomination, Oct. 17, 2011, Hollande participated in a memorial for Algerian victims of French police 50 years earlier. And at an unusual moment in late April -- just one week before his runoff against Sarkozy -- he dispatched a former justice minister, born to French parents in Algeria, to repeat his pledge to resolve all past disputes.
Nonetheless, a straightforward apology faces two serious hurdles.
First, Hollande must sort through complex emotions in France. The French were not alone in the scramble for North Africa. Their military fought in the Algerian war of independence for more than twice as long as it did for France's own liberation during World War II. In 1962, when the French army withdrew, nearly a million settlers were forced to evacuate the only homes they knew. The settlers felt abandoned, and those who stayed behind were subject to kidnappings and disappearances. Some of those nostalgic for l'Algérie française included Hollande's own father, a local politician who supported a right-wing, pro-colonial presidential candidate in 1965. One recent political profile concludes that Hollande "constructed his political identity in rejection of his father's own choices."
Since both sides can point to senseless deaths and dislocation, albeit to different degrees, Hollande faces the challenge of acknowledging the traumas of this period in an evenhanded manner. On May 8, the day the French traditionally celebrate Germany's surrender in WWII, the Algerians mourn the thousands of protesters killed in Sétif. On July 5, the day the Algerians celebrate independence, the French commemorate the infamous massacre of French civilians at Oran at the end of the war.
Second, there is the awkward question of the Algerian government's democratic legitimacy. Hollande was a cheerleader for democratization in North Africa from the moment protests spread from Tunisia to Algeria in early January 2011, and he denounced his predecessor's "silence" on the matter. Hollande's own silence about irregularities in Algeria's recent legislative elections and any warm words for the FLN-led Algerian government could be held against him later on. Algeria hasn't seen uprisings on the scale of neighboring Tunisia or Libya, though the same frustration with a lack of democracy and rising food prices has led to a widespread discrediting of the formal political system and a rumbling undertow of small-scale unrest. A formal apology from France could be used by Bouteflika's regime to shore up its own legitimacy and paper over serious deficits.
Surprisingly, former French President Jacques Chirac's gestures toward French Jews might show a way to sidestep this domestic and international morass. In July 1995, 50 years after the end of WWII, the newly elected Chirac broke with years of official silence about the state's role in an emblematic episode of the Holocaust in France: the 1942 Vel d'Hiv raid, when Paris police participated in rounding up thousands of Jews for deportation to concentration camps on Nazi orders. Chirac's speech was resolutely specific and not a blanket apology. The republic "delivered her children to their executioners" when France "committed the irreparable" by helping to gather thousands of Jews in a staging area for deportation, the president said.
Chirac's apology didn't resolve all lingering bad feelings, but it initiated a healing process for French Jews. Within a few years, the government set up a fund to compensate French Jews whose belongings were seized or looted during the war, and established a foundation for the memory of the Holocaust with a broad pedagogic mission. Unlike Germany, France has avoided granting group status to claimants, preferring to compensate individuals instead -- almost as if they were victims of a natural disaster, each with individualized damages to be repaid. This places a clear ceiling on liability and saves the state from recognizing "communities," which has been a bad word in France since the Jacobins introduced universal citizenship.
The French colonial experience in Algeria was vast, spanning from the Bourbon Restoration to the Fifth Republic. But several moments during the 1954-1961 war stand out and could serve as the premise for a targeted apology. For example, there are the numerous well-documented cases of torture and summary execution by French forces as well as the drowning of FLN supporters in Paris on the night of Oct. 17, 1961. The French government could begin by launching an investigation to compensate victims' families where possible, setting up a modest presidential "truth commission," and establishing a public foundation dedicated to research on the war and the memory of its victims -- which the Algerian government says is as high as 1.5 million. (A public foundation for French research on the wars in North Africa exists, but nothing dedicated to Algeria alone.)
The departure from Algeria marked the twilight of empire and closed one chapter of French history. It also marked the beginning of a new chapter characterized by the growth of an Algerian-origin population in mainland France. Two million more Algerians soon settled in France as migrant laborers. It's estimated that nearly 10 percent of Frenchmen have a personal or familial tie to Algeria. These include those of Arab-Algerian descent, Berbers, descendents of European colonists, and Algerian Jews who were naturalized en bloc in 1870.
The lack of an official apology hasn't prevented Algerians from integrating into French society. Indeed, the new president's arrival coincides with a measurable increase in minority political participation. For the first time, France's Assemblée Nationale counts four deputies of Algerian and Arab background. Two of his ministers were born to Algerian parents. The Algerian grandfather of his industries minister fought with the FLN against the French. So it's safe to say that France has begun to digest the complex legacy of l'Algérie française.
With a soupçon of diplomatic courage, Hollande and his team could help turn the remaining two years of the Algerian president's term into something more than the twilight of a lame duck. Bouteflika himself announced in May that the country's political class resembled an "overripe orchard" -- i.e., time to make room for the next generation to blossom -- and that he would not run again for president. Saying sorry now would provide closure to the Algerian leadership, many of whom personally fought in the war of independence, and help transition the FLN to a post-revolutionary era.
Even if France didn't believe this Algerian regime deserves the honor of a unilateral apology, withholding one strengthens the hand of nationalists who portray a hostile and conspiratorial Western bloc to justify their grip on power. In May, the prime minister drew connections between "the colonization of Iraq, the destruction of Libya, the partition of Sudan and the weakening of Egypt" as all being "the work of Zionism and NATO."
Hollande needs to find a way to issue French regret in a show of respect for the historical parties in power, while addressing the Algerian people's yearning for internal reform as a counterpoint to French contrition. This bilateral relationship is critical in matters of security cooperation -- from counterterrorism to the chaos in Mali -- and it is worth billions in trade and natural gas contracts. Only once France and Algeria look beyond the colonial era can their vital collaboration work on behalf of the shifting regional dynamics -- and not against them.
Jonathan Laurence, associate professor of political science at Boston College and nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, is author of The Emancipation of Europe's Muslims.
11 C.E., the Muslim chieftain Emir Musa’s dream was to invade further by marching across the Pyrenees ranges into France and meet the Muslims marauding from the east through Byzantium, so that Islam could surround the Mediterranean Sea which would then become a Muslim Lake.
But Musa also secretly harbored ambitions to be an Emir of Europe independent of the Caliph for which he embezzled a disproportionate part of the ill gotten wealth from the looting during the Spanish campaign. This raised the Caliph's suspicions about Musa. So Emir Musa was banished by the Caliph and he could not fulfill his aggressive dream. Consequently, the Muslim aggression against France was taken up by another Jihadi marauder named Abd-ur-Rahman.
Today, we might not realize the significance of the victory of the Franks (Ferrenghis – as the Muslims called them) over the Arabs, a few miles south of Paris in 732. Had it not been for this victory, the whole of Europe might have been Muslim today, and the history of Europe and perhaps that of the entire world would have been far more bloodied and darker as is that of the Middle East today.
Jihad against France
The Muslims' insatiable appetite for land, together with a burning desire to put end of Christianity had received a fillip after the conquest of Syria, Egypt, North Africa, and Spain. They dreamt of overrunning the whole of Western and Northern Europe. Thus began the Muslim invasion of France under the leadership of Abd-ur Rahman, who had then been appointed the chieftain of the Muslim occupiers of Spain by the Caliph.
When the Muslims burst upon France, the country was ruled by the Franks. The Franks were a Gothic (Germanic) tribe who eventually became the French as we know the French people today. It was another related Gothic clan – the Ostrogoths, who had been ruling Spain when the Muslims attacked Spain. The tales of mindless Muslim cruelty, savage torture, subterfuge deception and bloodchilling ruthlessness that the Ostrogoths who fled Muslim occupied Spain told their Frankish clansmen, had contributed to further stiffen the Frankish resolve to defeat the Muslim invaders.
The ferocity with which Charles (Karl) Martel fought against the invading Arabs, and his personal weapon of a hammerlike axe that he used, earned him the title of "Karl the Hammer".
Abd-ur-Rahman was an Arab soldier and emir of Spain, at a time when Islam as a military force was the most aggressive, violent and cruel in the world. He had become the Governor of Spain in 721. And in 722, and with the normal Muslim avarice to conquer more lands and convert the subjugated population to Islam, he set his greedy eyes on France. With this avarice in mind, he led an army across the Pyrenees Mountains into the dominions of the Franks, in the year 722.
For more information on Abd-ur-Rahman refer to the Encarta 2001.
Abd-ur-Rahman crossed the Pyrenees at the head of an immense army and advanced as far as the Loire River, pillaging and burning as he went. David W. Koeller in his article The Battle of Tours, says, " (The) Moslem army, in a wild search for land and the end of Christianity, after the conquest of Syria, Egypt, and North Africa, began to invade Western Europe under the leadership of Abd-ur-Rahman." The Muslim army had between 600,000 to 400,000 soldiers, and "an over whelming number of horsemen." (Encyclopedia.com, Battle of Tours). In October 732 AD, exactly one hundred years after Muhammad’s death, in 622 an army led by Abd-ur-Rahman… made contact with the Frankish army… along the road between Poitiers and Tours, [a city which was reputed to contain vast riches.] (Discovering World History Essay).
Abd-ur Rahman led his infantry across the Western Pyrenees and toward the Loire River. A Muslim commander named Al-Semak led the first invasion across the Pyrenees in 721, establishing a base at Norbonne. He was followed by Abd-ur Rahman with fresh contingents, who moved up the Rhône as far as Lyons and Dijon destroying churches and monasteries, following Muhammad's creed of especially targeting non-Muslim places of worship, before moving on to Bordeaux.
Abd-ur Rahman the Muslim general who invaded France destroyed palaces, burned churches, and imagined he could pillage the basilica of St. Martin of Tours. It is then that he found himself face to face with the lord of Austrasia, Charles, a mighty warrior from his youth, and trained in all the occasions of arms.
Abd-ur Rahman had crossed the Pyrenees, with a larger army and traversed the defiles [in the mountains] and the plains, so that he could penetrate deeper into the lands of the Franks with his ravaging and slaying campaigns. He gave battle to Duke Eudes (of Aquitaine) beyond the Garonne and the Dordogne, and put him to flight---so utterly was he beaten, and a large number of his compatriots were slain and wounded.
After this Abd-ur Rahman set in pursuit of Eudes; he destroyed palaces, burned churches, and imagined he could pillage the basilica of St. Martin of Tours. It is then that he found himself face to face with the lord of Austrasia, Charles, a mighty warrior from his youth, and trained in all the occasions of arms.
Between Poitiers and Tours, there was a clash between Abd-er Rahman, and the army of Charles Martel. After some spectacular victories, The Saracens (as the Franks called the Muslims) were met just outside the city of Tours by Charles Martel, known as the Hammer, and the Frankish Army.
The Battle of Tours
October 10, 732 AD marks the conclusion of the Battle of Tours, arguably one of the most decisive battles in all of history. Martel gathered his forces directly in the path of the oncoming Moslem army and prepared to defend themselves by using a phalanx style of combat. The invading Moslems rushed forward, relying on the slashing tactics and overwhelming number of horsemen that had brought them victories in the past.
At Poitiers, the Franks outmatched the Muslims in all departments of the game – subterfuge, cruelty, ruthlessness, and so were victorious, giving the Muslims their first decisive defeat. Before the battle was joined, for almost seven days the two armies watched one another, waiting anxiously the moment for joining the struggle. Finally they met in combat when the Franks suddenly advanced on the Arabs after nightfall on the seventh day. And in the shock of the battle the men of the North seemed like North a sea that cannot be moved. Firmly they stood, one close to another, forming as it were a bulwark of ice; and with great blows of their swords they hewed down the Arabs. Drawn up in a band around their chief, the people of the Austrasians carried all before them. Their tireless hands drove their swords down to the breasts [of the foe].
The Franks were the only ones to learn that the terror of the Arab Muslims can be neutralized only by a greater counter-terror. This counter terror has to be a mega-terror or a super-terror to strike fear in the hearts of Muslims that they give up their aggressive mentality on the pain of death
However, the French Army, composed of foot soldiers armed only with swords, shields, axes, javelins, and daggers, was well trained. Despite the effectiveness of the Moslem army in previous battles, the terrain caused them a disadvantage. Their strength lay in their cavalry, armed with large swords and lances, which along with their baggage mules, limited their mobility. The French army displayed great ardency in withstanding the ferocious attack.
It was one of the rare times in the Middle Ages when infantry held its ground against a mounted attack. The exact length of the battle is undetermined; Arab sources claim that it was a two day battle whereas Christian sources hold that the fighting clamored on for seven days. In either case, the battle ended when the French captured and killed Abd-ur Rahman.
Being more Smartly Sneaky with the Sneaky Muslims, secured the Franks a victory at Poitiers.
For the Muslims, the scale of their slaughter at the hands of the Franks and the death of their leader caused a sharp setback and they had no choice but to retreat back across the Pyrenees. The defeat and slaughter of the Muslims was so complete and ruthless that the Arab-Muslims were never to return again to France till the 20th century as immigrants from North Africa.
Not only did this prove to be an extremely decisive battle for the Christians, but the Battle of Tours is considered the high water mark of the Moslem invasion of Western Europe.
The Arabs marching through France had acquired a lot of loot, and this too worked in the favor of the Franks, who were not weighed down with the task of guarding their treasure, nor did they posses baggage trains of any kind. This drives home an important fact. The Arabs were there to loot, rape and covert the French to Islam at the point of the sword. The Franks were defending their nation. This apart, in tactics and ruthlessness too the Franks could match the Arabs and led to the massacre of the invaders.
Franks outmatch the Muslims in all departments of the game – subterfuge, cruelty, ruthlessness, and so are victorious, giving the Muslims their first decisive defeat
At Tours before the battle was joined, for almost seven days the two armies watched one another, waiting anxiously the moment for joining the struggle. Finally they met in combat when the Franks suddenly advanced on the Arabs after nightfall on the seventh day. And in the shock of the battle the men of the North seemed like North a sea that cannot be moved. Firmly they stood, one close to another, forming as it were a bulwark of ice; and with great blows of their swords they hewed down the Arabs. Drawn up in a band around their chief, the people of the Austrasians carried all before them. Their tireless hands drove their swords down to the breasts [of the foe].
At last late in to the night, the combatants. The Franks with misgivings lowered their blades, and beholding the numberless tents of the Arabs, prepared themselves for another battle another day.
The Muslims had initially planned to go to Tours to destroy the Church of St. Martin, the city, and the whole surrounding countryside. They never expected any serious battle with the Frankish leader Charles Martel, since till then the resistance had been weak and fragmented.
But Charles was different from other leaders. He drew up his host, and fought as fiercely as the hungry wolf falls upon the stag. He wrought a great slaughter upon his enemies that he slew in that battle 300,000 men, which included the commander of the Saracens Abd-ur-rehman.
From then on was Charles called "Martel," for as a hammer of iron, of steel, and of every other metal, even so he dashed: and smote in the battle all his enemies. And what was the greatest marvel of all, he only lost in that battle of Tours only 1500 men.
The tents and harness [of the enemy] were taken; and whatever else they possessed became a prey to him and his followers. Eudes, Duke of Aquitaine, being now reconciled with Prince Charles Martel, later slew as many of the Saracens as he could find who had escaped from the battle.
The outcome of the Battle of Tours saved future Civilization from becoming extinct in 732
The Battle of Tours was a very significant battle in the spread of Islam and in the survival of Christianity. The Battle of Tours decided history much more than one might imagine. The more powerful Muslims and the spread of Islam were knocking on Europe’s door. The battle of Tours changed all that. And Europe was safe for the next 700 years till the Muslims breached the Eastern Gateway when they overran Constantinople in 1453.
The defeat at Poitiers was the first Muslim defeat at the hands of the Christians. This was to be followed by the Reconquista in Spain (910 – 1492) and the Crusades (1096-1297), in addition to the Christian victories at Palermo, Lepanto and Vienna. But the final Christian victory against the challenge of Islam, called terrorism in our times, is yet to be delivered and this should happen in the next decade or two by 2025.
The spread of Islam was stopped along the road between the towns of Tours and Poitiers, France, with just its head in Europe. (Payne, Robert. 142) Islam spread rapidly through the Middle East and North Africa, due to the help of the influence of Islamic disciples and armies. But they were stopped dead at Tours. Was it the tactics of the Muslims that lost the battle for the Muslims or was it the loss of their great leader, Abd-er-Rahman? Or was it the leadership of the great Frankish leader Charles Martel?
Charles Martel, "The Hammer" who was till then just a Frankish General, then became the undisputed ruler of all the Franks. He became the ruler after defeating Austria in a war. He also engaged in wars against Alamanni, Bavarians, and Saxons, which were small tribes in and around France. But his greatest achievement was against the Muslims from Spain, who invaded France in 732. It was in this battle at Tours, it is said, that gave Charles his name, Martel "The Hammer", because of the merciless way in which he smote the enemy.
The Arab commander did not know that a trap had been set for him…. [Abd-ur-Rahman was in hot pursuit of another Frankish commander, when he came upon Charles Mantels army at Poitiers.] Abd-ur-Rahman called for a halt. He wanted to discover the strength of the enemy, and he hoped the Franks, if not too numerous, would attack.
What frightened that “brave” Muslim general Ab-ur-Rehman most of all was the possibility of losing his army among the forests and the streams. (Payne, 142-143). For seven days Charles [Martel] remained on the edge of the forest, waiting for the attack. It was bitterly cold weather, with Arabs still dressed for their summer campaigns.
The wolf pelts (furs) of the Franks helped them in the icy cold in addition to their nightly ravages of the huge Arab host arrayed against them. The Arabs were unfamiliar with the topography of the land, while the Franks knew it like the back of their palm. At last tired of the nightly ravages of the Franks in the morning of the seventh day Abd-ur-Rahman decided to launch a full-scale attack.
Charles and his army held firm, forming a hollow square to take the main charge of the Arabs while dispatching raiders along infrequently used forest paths to attack the Arabs from the rear. The Arabs, once guerrilla warriors, had a reverted to classical mode of warfare, and were no match for the Franks, who numbered many more well equipped soldiers than the Arabs spies indicated. Also the Franks were fighting with the Loire river at their back, and could not retreat even if they wanted to.
What frightened that “brave” Muslim general Ab-ur-Rehman most of all was the possibility of losing his army among the forests and the streams. (Payne, 142-143). For seven days Charles [Martel] remained on the edge of the forest, waiting for the attack. It was bitterly cold weather, with Arabs still dressed for their summer campaigns. The wolf pelts (furs) of the Franks helped them in the icy cold in addition to their nightly ravages of the huge Arab host arrayed against them. The Arabs were unfamiliar with the topography of the land, while the Franks knew it like the back of their palm. At last tire of the nightly ravages of the Franks in the morning of the seventh day Abd-ur-Rahman decided to launch a full-scale attack.
Charles and his army held firm, forming a hollow square to take the main charge of the Arabs while dispatching raiders along infrequently used forest paths to attack the Arabs from the rear. The Arabs, once guerrilla warriors, had a reverted to classical mode of warfare, and were no match for the Franks, who numbered many more well equipped soldiers than the Arabs spies indicated. Also the Franks were fighting with the Loire river at their back, and could not have retreated even if they had wanted to.
Being more Smartly Sneaky with the Sneaky Muslims, secured the Franks a victory
The Arabs marching through France had acquired a lot of loot, and this too worked in the favor of the Franks, who were not weighed down with the task of guarding their treasure, nor did they posses baggage trains of any kind. Most of them were simple foot soldiers, but there were some companies of cavalry. (Payne, 142-143) As the battle progressed, the Franks began to waver…. Behind their coats of mail, and their pointed helmets, their horses clothed in chain mail, the Arabs were almost impregnable. They were on the verge of victory when the Franks fought their way toward the treasure carts. Instead of fighting in column, the Arabs flew in defense of the treasure, and panicked when they saw the carts being driven away by the enemies.
Here the Muslim defeat at the Battle of Uhud in Arabia during the early days of Islam had repeated itself.
His Majesty Charles Martel (Karl the Hammer)
The Battle of Poiters was one of the fiercest in human history, where neither side gave the other any quarter. The Muslims for the first time met their match in the Franks in terms of ferocity. Once the Frankish army got the upper hand in the battle, they did not allow a single Arab soldier to return from the battlefield, neither did they take any prisoners. All the Arabs were slaughtered at Poitiers. And for a few decades after that a heap of Arab-Muslim bones marked the field of this seminal battle as the franks had not bothered to give the vanquished Arabs a decent burial as they were infidels.
Most Western societies are based on Secular Democracy, which itself is based on the concept that the open marketplace of ideas leads to the optimum government. Whilst that model has been very successful, it has defects. The 4 Freedoms address 4 of the principal vulnerabilities, and gives corrections to them.
At the moment, one of the main actors exploiting these defects, is Islam, so this site pays particular attention to that threat.
Islam, operating at the micro and macro levels, is unstoppable by individuals, hence: "It takes a nation to protect the nation". There is not enough time to fight all its attacks, nor to read them nor even to record them. So the members of 4F try to curate a representative subset of these events.
We hope that free nations will wake up to stop the threat, and force the separation of (Islamic) Church and State. This will also allow moderate Muslims to escape from their totalitarian political system.
The 4 Freedoms
These 4 freedoms are designed to close 4 vulnerabilities in Secular Democracy, by making them SP or Self-Protecting (see Hobbes's first law of nature). But Democracy also requires - in addition to the standard divisions of Executive, Legislature & Judiciary - a fourth body, Protector of the Open Society (POS), to monitor all its vulnerabilities (see also Popper). 1. SP Freedom of Speech Any speech is allowed - except that advocating the end of these freedoms 2. SP Freedom of Election Any party is allowed - except one advocating the end of these freedoms 3. SP Freedom of Movement The government can import new voters - except where that changes the political demographics (i.e. electoral fraud by means of immigration) 4. SP Freedom from Over-spending
People should not be charged for government systems which they reject, and which give them no benefit. For example, the government cannot pass a debt burden across generations (25 years).
An additional Freedom from Religion is be deducible by equal application of law: "Religious and cultural activities are exempt from legal oversight - except where they intrude into the public sphere (Res Publica)"