IS ALGERIA'S PASSION FOR FRANCE A CASE OF STOCKHOLM SYNDROME?
Today almost everyone in Algeria speaks French. A significant number of Algerian migrants live in France. The number of French citizens of Algerian origin who were named in connection with terrorist attacks is high. Athletes of Algerian origin are important names in sports. They all speak French. Speaking French and acting French seems to be a badge of “nobility” for Algerians.Yet it would not be wrong to say that France’s rule over Algeria, which began in the 1800s and continued almost into the 1970s has done more harm than good. The number of Algerians killed under French rule is said to be around 2 million. That most of the killings were very violent has made a greater impact on social psychology than the number itself.Most recently, with the Panama Papers scandal, Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika was named among those with offshore accounts and was heavily featured in the French press among other implied criminals. This was expected to cause tensions between Algeria and France to rise.It was not to be.French Prime Minister Manuel Valls arrived with an official delegation in Algiers on April 9th. Valls and the ten ministers accompanying him were met at the airport by Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal. Just five days before the visit, the French press had reported on the corruption Bouteflika had been involved in and the Algerian Foreign Ministry had communicated its discomfort to the French Embassy. Some of the journalists to accompany Manuel Valls on his visit to Algeria were not allowed to enter the country, while others had dropped out of the visit in protest at Algeria’s stance.The French press thus got to easily play the victimised party.So is Algeria’s passion for things French a case of the Stockholm Syndrome? Is it great affection felt towards the captor? No.Under the economic oppression of France, Algeria barely has room to manoeuvre. France is the largest investor in Algeria, including the country’s underground resources. The trade volume between the two countries is USD 10 billion per annum. Not only through trade and investment, but also through through French firms present in Algeria, France directly influences the lives of 500,000 Algerians. That the French economy should sneeze would cause a fewer for Algeria.It was under such circumstances that Valls arrived in Algeria. He first showed the stick and then the carrot to his Algerian counterparts. He was greeted by Sellal and hosted by Bouteflika. Having earned billions for France by signing a few documents, Valls went back to his country. In the minds of Algerians who do not recall the genocide carried out in their country, there only remained from this visit the issue of Bouteflika being featured in French papers for corruption.News Centre