News ID: 99733
Publish Date : 06 February 2022 - 21:16

PARIS (MEMO) – A sculpture dedicated to the Algerian anti-colonial freedom fighter and national hero, Emir Abdelkader, was vandalized in central France, hours before it was to be inaugurated on Saturday.
The steel sculpture by artist Michel Audiard was commissioned to mark the 60th anniversary of Algeria’s independence from France and was symbolically displayed in the town of Amboise, where the Islamic scholar-turned-military leader had been imprisoned from 1848 to 1852 after leading the resistance against the French invasion of the North African country in 1830.
The sculpture was the idea of historian Benjamin Stora who was tasked by President Emmanuel Macron to come up with a way to help reconcile relations between the two countries following the brutal, hard won eight-year war of liberation, ending 132 years of French rule.
However, the lower part of the artwork was badly damaged and coincided with an election campaign amid a rise in anti-immigration and Islamophobic rhetoric. Police have since launched an investigation into the incident.
Algeria’s ambassador to France Mohamed Antar Daoud, who attended the inauguration, condemned the attack as an act of “unspeakable baseness”.
Ouassila Soum, a 37-year-old French woman of Algerian background who attended the inauguration, said the vandalism left her “with a knot in my stomach.”
“It’s a shame and yet it’s not surprising with the rhetoric of hate and the nauseating current atmosphere,” said Soum, hailing the sculpture as “a symbol of the reconciliation between peoples and civilizations.”
Dubbed “France’s worst enemy” in the late 19th century, Emir Abdelkader is considered one of the founders of modern-day Algeria for his role in mobilizing resistance to French rule.
The rebellion he led failed however and he surrendered to French forces who shipped him to France, where he and his family spent four years under guard in Amboise castle.

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