The expected presence of three Algerian army officers and the Algerian flag at today's 14 July, or France’s national day, celebration in Paris has provoked indignation in both France and Algeria.
The French far right and some army veterans object to the presence of the Algerians among 80 national delegations invited to represent the Allies who fought with France in the First World War. So also does a powerful organisation in Algeria which represents the “mujahaddin” or veterans of the struggle for independence from France in the 1950s and 1960s.
French far-right politicians and media have also objected to the presence of a handful of Vietnamese soldiers. The far-right Catholic newspaper Prèsent said the invitation to the fellouzes (Algerian rebels) and the “Viet-minh” (anti-French colonial predecessors of the Viet-cong) was an “insult to France”.
A spokesman for Front National said Algeria was part of France in 1914-18 and the Algerians who fought were therefore French. “This shameful presence on French soil is… a sign of great contempt,” he added.
The French Defence Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, said that 130,000 North Africans fought for France in the 1914-18 war. More than 25,000 “gave up their lives for our country”. To have excluded Algeria would have been “shocking”.