USM Open Source History Text: The World at War: World History 1914-1945

African Resistance: Algeria

Like the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, which combined social reforms (it was anti-elitist), nationalist sentiment (it was anti‐western intervention) and Islam as a means of protest (Islamism), the anti‐colonial movement in Algeria was a complex weave of ideologies. Unlike the situation in Egypt and more like the situation in Kenya and South Africa, Algerians faced a growing population of European – this time French – settlers. Gradually over the course of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the European settlers – the so‐called pieds noir – came to dominate Algerian politics and society.

Immigration and natural increase were driving up the Algerian population. Arable land was becoming scarce and was increasingly in the hands of European settlers. Tensions in the Algerian countryside were on the rise. Tensions also existed among Algerians who had migrated to France to work as cheap labor. In 1926, among the poorly paid Algerian laborers in France, the Algerian anti‐colonial movement arose. The movement, the African North Star, combined anti-capitalist Marxism with notions of Algerian and Muslim identity. This movement grew during the 1930s, despite French suppression, and came to a head in the Setif Rising of May 1945. Violence confrontations between Setif Muslims and the colonial police escalated with the Setif attacks on European settlers – about 100 were killed. The Algerian colonial government responded with a massive military operation (and this following the conclusion of WWII!) in which an estimated 6,000 Algerians were killed, an event known as the Setif Massacre. Moderate opposition to French rule lost all popular appeal in post‐massacre Algeria. Radicalism came to dominate Algerian political thinking and militaristic opposition became the primary anti-colonial tactic.

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