As Europe celebrated the beginning of the end of World War II with Germany surrendering on 8 May 1945, thousands of Algerian men, women and children were mobilised by the French in Algeria to mark the victory of the Allied forces over the Nazis.
Many organisations joined the protest where they held up placards including “End to occupation” and “We want equality”. When a 14-year-old member of the Muslim Scouts, Saal Bouzid, held an Algerian flag, the French on orders from General Duval, opened fire on the unarmed protesters killing Bouzid and thousands of others.
The massacre by the French provoked the anti-colonial movement and nine years later Algeria began its War of Independence in November 1954 – a fight which would claim the lives of 1.5 million Algerians until independence was declared in 1962.
The 8 May is an official day of mourning in Algeria which contrasts heavily with the celebratory anniversary around Europe.
On February 2005, Hubert Colin de Verdière, France’s ambassador to Algeria, formally apologised for the massacre, calling it an “inexcusable tragedy”. President of Algeria Abdelaziz Bouteflika has called the Setif massacre the beginning of a “genocide” perpetrated during the Algerian War by French occupation forces. France has denounced this description.
Source: Middle East Monitor