The shadow of the past is haunting the French presidential elections. Frontrunner Emmanuel Macron who went to Algeria, an indispensable stop in the electoral campaign, made a controversial statement describing his country’s colonization of the North African country as a “crime against humanity.”
The statement came to be the biggest surprise in French presidential election campaign. Macron, the 39-year-old former minister of the economy, who was speaking to Echourouk news said his country’s occupation of Algeria amounts to “crime against humanity.”
“Colonization is part of France’s history. It is a crime against humanity. It is genuine barbarity and is now part of the past that we should face by presenting our apologies,” he said in an interview with the Algerian news channel.
These statements mirror a volte face in his stance regarding French occupation of Algeria. In October 2016 in an interview with French weekly le point, Macron refused to consider French colonization as a crime and opted rather for highlighting the “civilizational” aspects of occupation such as the emergence of an Algerian state and a middle class while downplaying atrocities.
According to several observers, Macron is a politician who can turn back the tide of authoritarian populism led by French far-right leader Marine Le Pen. His statements on colonization are aimed at attracting French voters of Algerian descent.
Macron presents himself as the energetic outsider, determined to break what he calls the “complacency and vacuity” of the French political system. At the head of a youthful movement, En Marche! (Let’s Go!), he wants to “re-forge France’s politics, culture and ideology”.
Because of his stance in favor of a stronger EU, Macron was attacked by Russia whom he accuses of attempting to hack his campaign’s infrastructure.