After the words of José Gonzales, a look back at the tortuous history of the RN with French Algeria

The opening of the parliamentary session was marked by the speech of the dean of the Palais-Bourbon, an RN deputy, pied-noir born in Oran. By evoking his native land from which he was “ripped”, he recalled the relations between his party and the Algerian war. Long a factor of cohesion within the party of Marine Le Pen, the situation has evolved in recent years.

A symbol-heavy media sequence. This Wednesday, the dean of the National Assembly, the National Rally deputy José Gonzalez, expressed his emotion when thinking of “his dead friends” in Algeria by opening the very first session of the new term. This pied-noir, born in Oran in 1942, then assured “not to know” if the OAS had committed crimes during the Algerian war. While assuming the words of her elected representative this Thursday morning, Marine Le Pen has continued in recent years to keep the subject, highly flammable, at bay. BFMTV.com summarizes the party’s relationship with the Algerian war.

The National Front (the former name of the RN Editor’s note) that Jean-Marie Le Pen co-founded in 1972 was largely born out of the rubble of this conflict. Formerly engaged in the first foreign parachute regime in French Algeria before joining the National Combatant Front, the nonagenarian was molded by this conflict.

“A parallel between the enemies of yesterday and those of today”

This is also the case of Roger Holeindre, one of the other co-founders of the party who cut his teeth in the OAS, an organization which tried to kill Charles de Gaulle during the attack on Petit -Clamart in 1962. One of the defendants’ lawyers, Jean-Louis Tixier-Vignancourt, was a candidate for the presidency of the republic three years later, and his campaign was then led by Jean-Marie Le Pen.

The cause of French Algeria, a driving force in the early days of the party, fueled its arguments in the fight against immigration.

“The movement had opted for a very specific angle: to draw a parallel between the enemies of yesterday and those of today by showing in a certain way that the war in Algeria was unfinished and that it was continuing at the end of the 1970s”, explains the historian Valérie Igounet, specialist of the National Gathering on his blog.

Electoral pool

The harkis and the pied-noirs also became an electoral clientele to be conquered. The first FN mayors, with the exception of Dreux, were all elected in territories with a large community, such as Jacques Bompard in Orange and Bruno Mégret in Vitrolles in 1995.

References to French Algeria in numerous speeches by Jean-Marie or his lieutenants, such as the number 2 of the Bruno Gollnisch party, pied-noirs or harkis present in all list ballots such as underlines it the historian Abderahmen Moumenthe question infuses the life of the party.

“Then, we started to talk about it less and less, firstly because time passed and even if the memory remained vivid, it worked less on French society than at one time. And also because, when Marine Le Pen aimed for the head of the RN, she said to herself that it was necessary to put in parentheses the subject which referred to other hours of the party”, underlines a former elected official with BFMTV.com.

More streets of March 19, 1962 in RN town halls

If the question is less present in the media to try to demonize the RN, it remains alive. Marine Le Pen, for example, accompanied Louis Aliot, whose mother is a repatriate from Algeria, in the summer of 2011 in a “black foot know-how fair”. The opportunity for her to remind the participants of the role of her father during the Algerian war.

The new generation of mayors elected in 2014 is also getting their messages across. When the “street of March 19, 1962 End of the Algerian War” was renamed in 2015, Mayor Julien Sanchez explained that he wanted to “wash away the affront” of the French who suffered”.

Robert Ménard, the mayor of Perpignan, took the same decision in 2015 and renamed the rue du 9 mars 1962 after the name of Commandant-Hélie-de-Saint-Marc. The name of this soldier remains associated with the torture and the putsch of the generals in 1961. Sentenced for this act to ten years in prison, the officer was pardoned in 1966 and rehabilitated in 1978.

Pass of arms between Le Pen and Macron

The subject returned to the forefront of the national scene during a visit by Emmanuel Macron to Algeria in the midst of the presidential campaign in 2017. “Colonization was a crime against humanity”, he says to Algerian television.

“Is there anything more serious, when you want to be President of the Republic, than going abroad to accuse the country you want to lead of a crime against humanity?” then responds his opponent on Twitter.

New controversy in 2021 when the president recognizes “in the name of France”, that the lawyer and nationalist leader Ali Boumendjel had been “tortured and assassinated” by the French army during the Algerian war in 1957.

Marine Le Pen then regrets the social networks “disastrous signals of repentance, division and self-hatred”.

Perpignan, marker city

Between these two controversies, Louis Aliot wins the municipal elections in Perpignan in 2020, quite a symbol. By 1962, 12,000 Pieds-noirs and 12,000 Harkis had arrived there – a considerable figure for a town of about 80,000 inhabitants at the time.

Since his election, the former companion of Marine Le Pen has continued to organize events around the memory of French Algeria, 3 days of commemoration on the occasion of the sixty years of the exodus of the feet -blacks at the inauguration of a square Mourad Kaouah, deputy of French Algeria from 1958 to 1962, to the chagrin of certain historians, as reported The Express.

The 2022 presidential campaign remains relatively far from these subjects, to the great relief of the youngest members of the party.

A story far from the youngest elected

“We had the impression of closing certain chapters in the history of the party in recent years to now devote ourselves entirely to subjects of daily life such as purchasing power”, deciphers a newly elected deputy.

The diagnosis is shared by one of the youngest parliamentarians in the group.

“French Algeria retains a symbolic significance, but it’s true that people who join the party today never do so again for this reason. For people of my generation, all that seems very far away,” confides a other at BFMTV.com.

Le Pen straight in his boots

Éric Zemmour, who repeatedly placed his campaign in the field of historical issues, from the conflict of the Second World War, to Napoleon, passing through the Senegalese skirmishers, also allowed Marine Le Pen to avoid these subjects.

Until the opening of the new parliamentary session with the speech of José Gonzales which shocked on the benches of the left. But the former presidential candidate assumes.

“It’s not a slippage, he made a very beautiful speech, a very dignified, very republican speech, which was hailed almost unanimously by loud applause from the National Assembly”, reacted this Wednesday Marine Le Pen on France Info.

A way to end a controversy which she would have done well, she who dreams of using her 89 deputies in the National Assembly to gain credibility with the French.

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