Rise of Algerian Nationalism

Algerian nationalism first appeared after World War I with the emergence of three main nationalist movements.

Star of North Africa (1926)


   The Star of North Africa was founded by Messali Hadj in 1926 and had a nationalist and radical program that demanded Algerian independence, withdrawal of French troops, creation of a national army and the nationalization of large estates. It is notable in that it was the first to call for Algerian independence and was affiliated with the French Communist Party and supported by Algerian workers in France.

Federation of Elected Muslims (1930)

    This organization was founded by Ferhat Abbas in 1930 and had an assimilationist agenda that called for representation in the French parliament, suppression of legislation that discriminated adversely against Muslims and equal rights for Muslims without the renunciation of their Muslim status. 
    In 1936, the French Prime Minister Blum put forward the Violette Plan that was to grant full citizenship to 25,000 Algerians without renunciation of Muslim status. However, this was denounced by the European settlers and did not follow through. As a result, Abbas abandoned his assimilationist views and in 1943 created the ‘Manifesto of the Algerian People’ that demanded liberty and equality for Muslims in their own country, in language, education and religion; abolition of colonization together with agrarian reform; full and immediate participation of Muslims in the government of their country and recognition of the political autonomy of Algeria as a sovereign state.

Association of Algerian Muslim Ulama (1931) 

    The Association of Algerian Muslim Ulama was formed by Ben Badis and was originally directed toward religious reform. It firmly opposed assimilation and increased the importance of Islam as a part of the Algerian identity. Ben Badis famously stated "Islam is my religion, Arabic is my language, Algeria is my country."

Setif Massacre

    France's defeat during World War II, the Anglo-American invasion of North Africa in 1943, and some American interest in Algerian nationalism all contributed to a strengthening of nationalist aspirations and a rejection by Muslims of their inferior status.

    In May of 1945, Muslim demonstrations in the town of Setif that  celebrated the Allied victory turned into a riot and were viciously suppressed by French military forces. This resulted in the death of several thousand Muslims and increased nationalism among the general population.