War and war related issues were among the common news in the 20th century. There are a lot of incidences where nations fought against each other or faced conflicts within their own boundaries leading to civil war. However, among the notable wars in the 20th century was the war for independence among different nations throughout the world. In this war, different nations fought against each other as one sought to be free from the chains of the colonists while the other fought to continue being colonists. Among these wars is the Algerian War, which was fought between France and the Algerian independence movements.
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There are a lot of arguments that have been put forward in regard to the real cause of the Algerian war. Among these arguments is the fact that this war was caused by religious differences between the Pied Noir and the native Algerians. To begin with, the Pied Noirs were the French Algeria colonists who had been born in Algeria though the held French citizenship. However, it is also important to note that Pied Noir also included a few Europeans, who had been born in Algeria such as those of Spanish, Malta and Italian decent. They had a Christian religious background. On the other hand, the native Algerians were mainly Moslems.
According to Global Security (2005), social unrest began in Algeria as a result of religious differences whereby the native Moslems groups were restricted from preaching in their Mosques by the Pied Noirs. This was as a result of the popularity that these Moslem reformers had gained from people and therefore, restrictions upon them not to preach led to social unrest that was just the beginning of turmoil that would later on erupt into a full war, leading to Algeria’s independence. It is cited that the reformers called for Muslims in Algeria to arise and fight for the cause of Algeria in order to restore it as a Muslim state that was based on Muslim principles.
The Moslems believed that they were being oppressed by the Christian colonists and desired that they would be freed from this oppression. Therefore, they came up with strategies that would enable them to launch an attack that would finally lead to their independence. Most of these Moslem leaders believed that Algeria was a Muslim sovereign state that required to be run under Sharia laws that strictly implemented every command from the Koran. Therefore, the Moslem nationalists created a guerrilla group by the name Front de Libération Nationale, FLN, that was mandated to fight and restore the glory of Algeria from the hands of the French (Windrow and Chappell 5). The strategies that were used for launching an attack against the French also depict an element of religious differences between the Pied Noirs and the Algerian Natives. It is argued that Front de Libération Nationale launched their attack in their quest to gain independence on November 1, 1954, which was a Christian festival of All Saints’ Day, on which Pied Noirs were free from duty and therefore there was minimal guard throughout the country. Therefore, when Front de Libération Nationale launched a nationwide attack, they found Pied Noirs off guard.
On the other hand, proposals that the religious differences were the main cause of war between the Native Algerians and the Pied Noir can be termed as a biased argument. To begin with, the Native Algerians were tired of the fact that they were being oppressed in their own country. Most of them led economic and socially degraded lives as they had nothing to boast of or to make their lives better and instead, led a life of poverty. Global Security (2005) asserts that the native Algerians were treated as subject of the Pied Noirs and as a results, they were seen as a second class citizens, a factor that contributed to most of them leading a life of poverty and occasional mistreatment.
As a result of being mistreated, the Native Algerians proposed that their number be increased in parliament. However, Pied Noirs declined and instead raised the value of their vote by seven whereby one vote of a Pied Noir was equal to seven votes of the Native Algerian (North Africa Times). This proved critical as they were not able to make decisions that concerned the way their nation was to be run. Therefore, they sought other methods such as insurgency and guerilla warfare as a way of reclaiming their status as an independent country. On the other hand, the validity of religious differences as the main cause of the Algerian War remains uncertain since there were Moslems who supported the course of France in Algeria and they even went to the point of fighting against the Native Algerians. Similarly, there were Native Algerian groups and movements that fought against each other as well as against the French despite the fact that they shared a common religious background. This leaves an element of controversy in regard to the place of religion in this War.
The place of religion in the Algerian War cannot be ignored however. This is because most of the independence movements that sought to drive away the French from Algeria were religious groups. On the other hand, religion cannot be concluded as the major cause of the Algerian War. This is because history reveals that when people are oppressed, they have a tendency of rebelling and causing uprising. However, it is important to note that religion played an important role in organizing and setting the stage for this war.
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