Setif–8 May 1945

For Algerians, 8 May 1945 is a point of no return. On that day, Algerians who fought in the ranks of the Free French demonstrated for full equality under the law, as promised by French government in exile.

In return the French colonials replied with gun fire: 8000 to 45.000 victims, depending on the historian you read. Whatever the number of deaths and wounded a irreparable rupture occurred.

For Algerians, who commemorate this day, it was the first shot in the Algerian War, which broke out in all ernest on All Saints Day, 1 November 1954 and ended with complete independence eight years later on 5 July 1962.

The Franco Algerian film maker Rachid Bouchareb brought the massacre of Setif to the screen in 2010 in ‘Hors la loi’. Although a disappointing film artistically, it served its purpose as a political pamphlet, not only reopening France’s ‘forgotten history’, but tore the lightly formed scars of France’s consciousness.

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