For “Dad’s France”, everything was simpler when there were unknown soldiers, like those who lie under the Arc de Triomphe, when diplomatic emergencies were not really urgent, and when political majorities obeyed the ‘Élysée’s finger on the seam of the trousers. This October 26, a senator (centrist) threw a skull in the pond by addressing Rima Abdul-Malak, the French Minister of Culture. The subject ? The conditions for the delivery of certain bones to Algeria, there are of them ans…
Algeria: France ready to return two skulls of Algerian resistance fighters
In July 2020, the French state handed over twenty-four skulls to Algiers, presented as the remains of Algerian fighters killed during the colonial conquest. Preserved in the collections of the Musée de l’homme, in Paris, they were submitted, in 2018, along with forty-five other skulls, to a Franco-Algerian scientific committee for identification. This work of catharsis, supposed to settle the accounts of the past, is part of the policy of President Macron, who, with his Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne, has recently had new outbursts of affection towards Algeria. . France, moreover, was preparing on October 21 to hand over two other skulls to the Algerian authorities.
Between the devil and the deep sea
This was without counting on an investigation by the New York Times… According to the American daily, only six of the skulls already returned have been clearly identified as those of Algerian resistance fighters. Some would have no connection with the remains of said heroes. Others are said to have uncertain origins.
This Wednesday, October 26, during the weekly session of current affairs in the French Senate, the parliamentarian Catherine Morin-Desailly (member of the Union centrist, itself close to the current regime, minority in the upper house) therefore asked the government why the mission of the Franco-Algerian committee of experts seemed to have been “shortened” and was subject to “the strictest confidentiality”. The elected official recalled the reservations expressed by this commission, which met a month before the repatriation of the skulls: dictated by “diplomatic urgency”, the “rushed and authoritarian nature of the operation” would have interrupted the work of memory.
Algeria-France: skulls and questions
Caught between the hammer (of the senator) and the anvil (of the press), the Minister of Culture both praised the rigor of the 2018 joint committee and welcomed the reservations it had expressed: rigor in the identification work and precaution in formulations such as “human remains alleged Algerians”. This Wednesday’s games show that the question of restitution is still sensitive, especially when it comes to human remains. They also betray the pride of a parliamentarian who considers that the procedures for returning “inalienable cultural property” do not always retain the principle of a “legislative act of restitution”. upset, the senator?