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People's Democratic Republic of Algeria

Also known as: Al-Jumhūriyyah al-Jazāʾiriyyah al-Dīmuqrāṭiyyah al-Shaʿbiyyah

History: Ottoman Period

The Ottoman Empire also ruled over some of their territory, along with most of North Africa. This Empire, also called the Turkish Empire, controlled much of Southeast Europe, Western Asia, and Northern Africa between the 14th and early 20th centuries.

In 1518, due to the threat of Spanish occupation and subsequent fighting, Kheireddine Barberousse placed Algiers under protection of the Ottoman Sultan of Istanbul. From 1534 to 1587, the Beylerbeys were in power (23 Beylerbeys reigned during this period. The term Beylerbey means 'commander of commanders' or 'lord of lords', and it was a high rank in the western Islamic world in the late Middle Ages and early modern period). From 1587 to 1659 the power was transferred to a different kind of ruler, the Pasha (about 40 pashas took power during that period. This rank was given to soldiers and high civil officials, not to men of religion, and was usually personal and not hereditary. It was also rarely applied to influential women- usually related to another male pasha).

From 1659 to 1671, the Aghas came into power (about 4 aghas did so. In the Ottoman times, some court functionaries and leaders of organizations were entitled to this title. In rural communities, this term was used for people with considerable lands and thus influential in their community. Regardless of the type of community, this title is also used for any male that was influential or respected). By 1671 and through 1710, their authority had shifted and both Deys and Pashas ruled (11 deys took power during this period). In 1671 the provincial government was removed, and replaced by the direct control of the local Ottoman garrison. The overthrow was carried out by kouloughli (Maghrebi) Turks who continued to offer tribute and allegiance to Constantinople, merely refusing the latter’s right to replace the local governor, who was then elected by the Turkish military regiments and the corsairs. These elected officials were referred to as Deys. Some of them that became very influential then went on to become Pashas. Algiers also withstood English and French aggressions during this time, in the years 1678,1680,1682 and 1688. From 1710-1830 the authority went solely to Deys (18 Deys took power, the last being Dey Hussein).

Most of what we now know as modern Algeria was never a core part of the Ottoman empire, and most of the local tribespeople and several local Berber and Kabyle sultanates remained independent of the Turkish administration, often supporting and/or interacting with it. The part that was a province of it, enjoyed a large autonomy as well, with its own diplomacy (see Barbary wars).

On June 14 of 1830, 34000 French soldiers landed at Sidi Fredj (27 kms./17 miles west of Algiers). They entered Algiers on July 5th, after a three-week campaign against the Dey. He agreed to surrender in exchange for his freedom and the offer to keep his personal wealth. This marked the end of the Deylik and the start of the French rule and colonization in Algeria.

French colonization

On July 5, 1830 the invading French signed an agreement of submission with the Dey of Algiers. From 1832 to 1847, Emir Abd el-Kader resisted their rule, and made his authority recognized on the center and the west of Algeria as the Algerian State.

Resistance also sprung from the east, led by Ahmed Bey from 1830 to 1848.

In February 26, 1834 the Desmichels Treaty was concluded between France and Emir Abd El Kader. In May 3, 1837 another one, the Treaty of Tafna, was also negotiated between General Bugeaud and the Emir.

In the following years, many organized revolts against the French happened all over Algeria, continuing into the early 1900's:

  • 1846: Revolt of Benacer Ben Chohra in the Center and the Southeast of Algeria.

  • 1845-1850: Revolt of the oasis of Zaatcha and Zibane conducted by Sheik Bouziane.

  • 1851-1860: Revolt of Cherif Boubeghla and Fatma N'soumer in Djurdjura and in Kabylia​

  • 1864-1884: Revolt of Ouled Sidi-Cheikh

  • 1871-1872: Revolt of Hadj Mohamed El Mokrani Boumezrag and Cheikh El Haddad

  • 1877-1912: Revolt of the Touareg in the Hoggar under the lead of Sheik Amoud Ben Mokhtar

In 1912, the Movement of the Algerian youth was created (in French,Mouvement de la Jeunesse Algerienne) directed by the Emir Khaled. This was one of a few nationalist movements started in Algiers. Its members were Algerians who had gained access to French education and earned their living in the French sector. Also called assimilationists, they wanted gradual, reformed tactics, with no illegal actions, and were prepared to consider permanent union with France if all rights the Frenchmen had could be extended to native Algerians. This group, originating from the period before World War I, was loosely organized and included (in the 1920s) Khaled Ben Hachemi (Emir Khaled), who was the grandson of Abdelkader, and (in the 1930s) Ferhat Abbas, who later became the first premier of the Provisional Government of the Algerian Republic.

Another group, also created in 1912 in Algiers, was The association of the Muslim Students of North Africa (in French: L’Association des Etudiants Musulmans de l’Afrique du Nord [A.E.M.A.N.]). In March 1926, The North African star (in French: l'Étoile Nord Africaine) was created in Paris by El-hadj Ahmed Messali. They were the first to call for Algerian independence.

In 1927, The association of the North African Muslim Students (in French “L’Association des Etudiants Musulmans Nord Africains -A.E.M.A.N.F) was created in Paris as well.

In 1931, L’Association des Oulamas Musulmans was created by Sheik Abdelhamid Ben Badis. This association was founded in 1931, but formally organized on May 5, 1935. Also referred as Association of Algerian Reformist Ulama, French Association Des Uléma Musulmans Algériens, or Association Des Uléma Reformistes Algériens, Arabic Jamʿiyyat al-ʿUlamāʾ al-Muslimīn al-Jazāʾiriyyīn, it was a group of Muslim religious scholars (ulamā) that advocated for the restoration of an Algerian nation rooted in Islamic and Arabic traditions, while under French rule. They were not a political party, but their movement fostered a strong sense of Muslim Algerian nationality and was popular among the population.

In March 1937, the Party of the People of Algeria (in French, Le Parti du Peuple Algerian [P.P.A]) was created by El-hadj Ahmed Messali, the same person that created The North African Star, after the government by the Front Populaire (a group they had joined in 1936) dissolved the ENA in January 1937. The group utilized peaceful methods of protest, but were still constantly pursued by the police in France anyway, and were banned by French colonial authorities in Algeria. It continued as a clandestine organization from 1938 to 1946, with a few activities during World War II. There was hope among the group that Algeria would be rewarded for its help in liberating France from the Germans. but the events of the Sétif, Guelma and Kerrata massacre in May 8th 1945 proved otherwise. About 45000 people were killed that day.

In 1943, Ferhat Abbas published the Manifesto of the Algerian people, asking for equality between the Muslim and European communities. It called for a new status for the Algerian Nation, and was signed by 28 elected Muslim officials. The manifesto condemned colonialism and asserted the right for the people in Algeria to govern themselves. It demanded a constitution that would guarantee freedom and equality for all people regardless of race and religion, the acknowledgment of Arabic as a language with the same status as French, and asked for freedom of religion- with separation of church and state. An addendum called for the creation of an Algerian Assembly at the end of the war.

The Manifesto was given to the general governor Marchen Peyrouton on March 31, 1943 (and its addendum in May 1943). Charles de Gaulle arrived and called for the end of the project. On June 23, 1943 General Catroux, the new general governor of Algeria, rejected it. The AML (Amis du Manifeste des libertés, or, the Friends of the Manifesto and Liberty) was created in March 1944 to defend it. In 1946, Ferhat Abbas created The Democratic Union of the Algerian Manifesto (in French, l’Union Democratique du Manifeste Algerien [U.D.M.A]).

That year, El-hadj Ahmed Messali created the Movement for the Triumph of The Democratic Liberties (in French, Le Mouvement pour le Triomphe des Libertés Démocratiques [M.T.L.D]), to replace the banned PPA. This movement had the same idea the PPA had, that full independence for Algeria was the only thing possible. A month after it was created, it won five seats (out of 15 elected) in the November Algerian elections, despite many irregularities. During that same election Ferhat Abbas was elected under the Union Democratique du Manifeste Algerien (UDMA), a party he had formed in that same year.

In 1947 the Special Organization (in French: l’Organisation Spéciale or Organisation Secret) was created. They were a secret paramilitary organization, founded by Mohamed Belouizdad from the Movement for the Triumph of Democratic Liberties (MTLD), to prepare for what they believed would be needed: an armed struggle against France. The change of mentality, from wanting a peaceful resolution of sorts to wanting guerrilla warfare, was mainly the result of the people's reactions to fraudulent elections in the Algerian Assembly in 1948 and later, which were decided and justified by the Governor-General of Algeria Marcel-Edmond Naegelen, and to the massacre of 1945, among other examples of violent repression. These all convinced Algerian activists of the time, from 1948 onwards, that peaceful political work would not work.

The OS had around 1,500-2,000 members at its peak popularity, and helped create the groups that later formed the FLN (the National Liberation Front). They became the leading force in the Algerian War of Independence (1954–1962), and later Algeria's single ruling party until 1989.

They were dismantled by French police in 1950, and many of their members went to prison. Only the units in Aurès and Kabylie remained active at the time. The Revolutionary Committee for Unity and Action (in French, C.R.U.A. or Comité Révolutionnaire d'Unité et d'Action) was formed then by 33 people, including former members of the OS and radical members of the MTLD. They were the ones that later evolved into the FLN, in turn producing the Declaration of November 1st 1954, written by journalist Mohamed Aïchaoui. This started of the Algerian revolution.

In September 1955, the Algerian issue was placed on the agenda of the U.N. They came to the determination that the situation in Algeria could clearly no longer be viewed as a matter of domestic jurisdiction. The U.N.'s General Assembly had always believed that it was competent to deal with any question of human rights, including the right of people to have self-determination, especially when friendly relations between members of the United Nations were affected. That independence was a natural and indisputable right of the Algerian people. This situation was debated by them from 1955 to 1962. It comes to no surprise that France was opposed to this determination during the discussions, as they wanted to avoid the open international condemnation of the policies they had followed in Algeria since 1830.

On August 20 1956, the Congress of the Soummam happened, and the National Council of the Algerian Revolution (in French, le Conseil national de la Révolution algérienne [C.N.R.A.]) and the Committee of Coordination and Application (in French, le Comité de coordination et d'exécution [C. C. E.]) were created.

On September 19 1958, a Provisional Government of the Algerian Republic (in French, Le Gouvernement Provisoire de la Republique Algerienne [G.P.R.A.]) was created in exile, presided by Ferhat Abbas. On August 09 1961, Benyoucef Ben Khedda became the 3rd President of this Provisional Government of the Algerian Republic.

On March 18 1962, the Evian Accords between the F.L.N. and the French Government were signed. This led to, on March 19 1962, the Proclamation of a cease-fire. The Installation of the Provisional Executive in “Rocher Noir” (Boumèrdes) happened in April, and later on that same year the Referendum on self-determination was held (July 01), with 99.7% in favor of independence. On July 05 1962, the independence of Algeria was finally proclaimed.

Stay tuned for more information on Algeria's history, its people and its culture, in future posts. Our area is blessed to be called home by many people of many cultures, and they deserve to be acknowledged.


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