Category Archives: Algeria

The best Algerian restaurant in the principality

Maghreb cuisine in Ceredigion

After an enjoyable day in the Cardiganshire coastal town of Aberystwyth, Dr and Dr (Mme) Dalrymple dine in

a Moroccan restaurant. Actually it was Algerian, but as the owner, an Algerian, pointed out, no one in Aberystwyth has heard of Algeria.

It was, says Dalrymple,

instructive to talk to someone such as he, for then you begin to realise how many remarkable people there are in the world.

How, the doctor-writer asks,

does one go from being a teacher of French and Arabic in Algeria to being the owner and chef of a restaurant in Aberystwyth? He had been in Wales for forty years, and on the wall of his restaurant were the flags of Algeria and Wales, by coincidence of the same colouration. He loved his adopted country, which speaks well of it.

The tajine

was as good as I had eaten anywhere.

An irony of the Algerian War

Its conclusion, Dalrymple notes,

benefited the French population as a whole more than the Algerian population as a whole. It saved France without saving Algeria. Had Algeria remained French, full rights as French citizens would almost certainly have had to be granted to Algerians, including the right to live in metropolitan France. They were 9m at the time of independence, but they are 39m now; and whatever problems France may now have with its population of North African origin, they are tiny by comparison with what they might have been if there had been absolutely free movement between the countries.

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This priceless privilege

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 09.14.52The right to be oppressed (most mercilessly) by one’s own people

The Algerians would rather forget that not only did they

commit many atrocities, both against the French colonists and tens of thousands of Algerians, but that the Algerian population had not been unanimously supportive of the FLN before the advent of independence.

They claimed that the Algerian War was a struggle against racial injustice and discrimination, yet the result was

ethnic cleansing of the million French residents of Algeria, 11 per cent of the population, including Jews, practically all of whom left in the few months after the signing of the Evian Accords.

The freedom fighters turned out to be power fighters.

Once they were installed in power they instituted nothing that any political philosopher would recognise as a regime of freedom. The only sense in which the new regime was freer than the old had been was freedom from the old oppressor.

The new oppressor, which

immediately killed 15,000 to 30,000 fellow countrymen who had fought on the old oppressor’s side, was, however, of the same ethnic, cultural and religious origin as the population it oppressed. How much of an advance was this, and was it worth the lives of half a million people to make it? If the answer is yes, then it is to admit that it is preferable to be oppressed by one’s own people rather than by people of alien origin, even if the weight of the oppression is objectively similar.

To be oppressed by a foreigner

gives an extra dimension of outrage to the oppression, but on the other hand permits the hope that if only the foreigner can be expelled all will be well.