The Controversy Surrounding the law on the Positive Role of the French Presence Overseas

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Hardly had the fires died down in the suburbs of Paris, as the November rioting by immigrant youths petered out, than the flames of another conflict fed by France's colonial past began to sweep through France's political landscape.
The law of February 23, 2005, as it is known, was intended to recognize the contribution of the 'harkis', the 200,000 or so Algerians who fought alongside France's colonial troops in their country's war of independence, from 1954-62, before being abandoned to a dreadful fate when the French withdrew - "about 130,000 were executed as traitors." (Henley, 2005).


This law, otherwise known as the 'February 23, 2005' law, was passed quietly in February of 2005, but came to prominence in the autumn when there was an overwhelming vote by conservative deputies against a bid to revoke the phrase. This touched off on a debate about whether France, whose empire ended in bloody wars in Indochina and Algeria, had learnt from its colonial experience.
The trouble started in February when lawmakers quietly slipped a clause into a bill requiring schools to "recognize in particular the positive character of the French overseas presence, notably in North Africa."
Some of the key players in this situation would be: President Jacques Chirac of Paris, Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, Gilles Manceron, and Olivier Petre-Grenouilleau - a respected historian who was accused of making statements in an interview which implied that the slave trade was not a crime against humanity. (In fact, he said that it didn't constitute genocide). ...
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