Changing Attitudes of Ferhat Abbas

Changing Attitudes of Ferhat Abbas


Ferhat Abbas believed in the peaceful solution and that the French are
willing to co-operate with the Algerians. With this co-operation, he thought, it
was possible for all to live together. He was brought up and thought to believe
in democracy and parliament, to look for these in a peaceful fashion and that
the people have to be asked what to do with their country and not to be
terrorised to be convinced differently. However in the 1950\'s we can see a
clear change, a turn in his thoughts. He accepts more violent ways in order to
gain what he believes in. In order to explain the change in attitudes of Ferhat
Abbas it is important that we first look at his background. In 1899 Ferhat
Abbas was born. He had, like many others, received entirely French education at
Constantine and at the University of Algiers. After finishing his studies he
had served the French Army for two year after which he founded a pharmacist shop
in Setif. There he also founded a student union which was a start of his
political career. Soon he was accepted into the city Council where he fought
for the emancipation of Algerians from the French. In 1938 Abbas founded the
Union Populaire Algérienne which peacefully fought for the equal rights of
Algerians and French. Believing in the possible co-operation of French and
Algerians he had, fought alongside the French.

Political Career

During the war Abbas still continues his work towards the equality. In
1943 he wrote the \'Manifesto of the Algerian People\' which was than proclaimed
and several times sent to the French authorities. "The French colony only admits
equality with Muslim Algeria on one level; sacrifice on the battlefields." This
manifesto represented some very revolutionary ideas and proposed the equality of
rights and "immediate and effective participation." Also in this manifesto
Abbas continuously condemns the French oppressive colonialism and even asks for
the self- determination of the whole population as a different culture. Soon
afterward he wrote an addition to the manifesto in which he sees the Algeria as
the country separate from France. In the book \'A Savage War of Peace\' his
attitude is described as following:
"Of pacific temperament, although he was a skilful debater, he was no rabble-
rouser..."(Horne,1979, p.40).

The A.M.L

On its rejection by the French governor general, Ferhat Abbas and an Algerian
working-class leader, Messali Hadj, formed the Amis du Manifeste et de la Liberté
(A.M.L. ; Friends of the Manifesto and Liberty), which envisioned an Algerian
autonomous republic federated to a renewed, anti-colonial France. This party saw
that the Algeria should be decolonised and that the French should leave the
ruling to the Algerian people. Mesaslli was a trouble maker and believed in
constant activity of the party in order to gain attention needed. The activity
mostly was in the form of open speeches and leaflets. It did gain lot of
support but also attracted the attention of the French. Soon the French dealt
with the A.M.L. The ideas were to rebellious for the authorities to overlook.
Abbas was imprisoned for a year. In the prison he meets other politicians with
the similar ideas like himself. Also when Abbas was thrown to prison his party,
the A.M.L., was abolished.

The U.D.M.A

In 1946, after a year of imprisonment Ferhat Abbas founded the Union Dé
mocratique du Manifeste Algérien (U.D.M.A. ; Democratic Union of the Algerian
Manifesto), which advocated co-operation with France in the formation of the
Algerian state. This union has many times tried to propose the agreement with
the French whereby the power could be shared. On one meeting he said: "It is a
hundred and sixteen years that we have been waiting this moments, that is to say
the opportunity of being here and making ourselves heard among you....Therefore,
have patience, I ask and beg of you...We are but a very small minority. Be
generous...!" (Horne, 1979, p.73). Again the propositions were rejected. Ferhat
Abbas tried further to perceive his views in his peaceful and democratic fashion
only to be ignored again. The best proof of his belief into the French is his
speech to the Assembly, and the French, in 1954:

Ferhat joins F.L.N.

Abbas\' moderate and conciliatory attempts failed to evoke a sympathetic response
from the French colonial officials, and in 1956 he escaped to Cairo to join the
Front de Libération Nationale (F.L.N.), an Algerian organisation committed to
revolutionary struggle for independence from France founded in 1954.

In 1956 we can see the change in Abbas\'s attitude. In that year he
joins the F.L.N. which was committed towards