French President Emmanuel Macron was heckled during a speech Monday in which he apologized on behalf of his country for abandoning Algerian soldiers who fought alongside France during Algeria’s war of independence.
Macron admitted France had abandoned the Harki soldiers, who were Algerian Muslims, despite earlier promises that the French government would protect them, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported. More than 200,000 Harki soldiers fought with the French military during the independence war from 1954 to 1962.
France left behind its Algerian allies at the end of the war, and many were massacred by the newly independent Algerian government, according to the AFP news agency. Those who escaped to France were often interned in detainment camps, including with their families, and experienced poor living conditions.
In his speech, Macron asked the audience of around 300 Harkis and their descendants for “forgiveness” on behalf of the French government. He also promised legislation on reparations and official recognition of the government’s wrongdoing.
“In the name of France, I say to the Harkis and their children in a loud and solemn voice, that the Republic has contracted a debt towards them. To the combatants, I wish to express our gratitude,” Macron said. “We will not forget. To the abandoned combatants, to their families who suffered the camps, the prison, the denial, we will not forget.” (RELATED: US Left Behind Majority Of Afghan Allies Who Applied For Visas)
But his speech was interrupted several times by hecklers, including one woman who accused Macron of “making empty promises,” according to the AFP news agency. But others, including former Harki soldier Serge Carel, said he welcomed Macron’s “firm desire for the truth.”