A sculpture representing the Algerian emir Abdelkader (1808-1883) will be inaugurated this Saturday in Amboise, on the banks of the Loire. Leader of the resistance to the French conquest, he was also a respected spiritual figure and favorable to a tolerant Islam.
The original idea comes from the historian Benjamin Stora, author of a report on the memorial reconciliation between France and Algeria, who saw in this historical figure a symbol of appeasement.
Next Saturday, the city of Amboise inaugurates a statue of Abd El-Kader.
After having fought against the conquest of Algeria by France, the emir evolved during his captivity (Toulon, Pau, Amboise) and never ceased to work for the rapprochement between the two shores of the Mediterranean. pic.twitter.com/iLUK9oLWJX
— Eric Anceau (@Eric_Anceau) February 2, 2022
Nicknamed France’s “best enemy”, Emir Abdelkader led the resistance against the French conquest of Algeria, before capitulating in 1847.
Prisoner at Amboise
Taken prisoner in Toulon then in Pau, he was then detained at the Château d’Amboise with his retinue for four years. “Man of great culture” according to Benjamin Stora, the emir occupies his days by prayer, reading and writing a philosophical essay: “Letter to the French”. Devoid of any animosity towards his former enemy, he talks about culture, science and says he admires French rationality.
Weakened by his conditions of detention – causing the death of several members of his family – the emir saw a circle of support forming around him comprising various personalities from the political and intellectual world. Some soldiers who fought him also support him.
Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor
Sensitive to his cause, Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte (future Napoleon III) freed him in 1851 and even received him at the Palais des Tuileries.
Abdelkader then went to Syria where he distinguished himself by intervening to save the Christian community of Damascus from a massacre in 1860. An act of bravery which earned him the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor by Napoleon III. .
According to the New Republic, the cost of the artistic installation is €35,000, largely supported by subsidies from the Élysée and the Regional Directorate for Cultural Affairs.