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Fifty years after Algerian freedom, youths take fresh look at France (+video)

Younger Algerians have a more pragmatic approach to France, Algeria's former colonial master. They view engagement with the West as a necessity, especially for creating jobs through investment. 

Algerians celebrate fifty years of independence
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Like many people in the city of Souk Ahras, in eastern Algeria, Kamel Osmane’s grandfather supported the war. He baked bread for the guerrillas and hid weapons in his bakery. Before long, he was arrested by the French.

“We’re better off today in that we’re no longer ‘les indigènes’ -- we’re independent,” says Mr. Osmane, a business consultant in Algiers. “But society is in crisis, and governance must change.”

On Thursday, Algerians marked 50 years since their country won independence from France, ending decades of colonial rule. A key question now is what role awaits young Algerians like Mr. Osmane as aging leaders enter their twilight and a generation that has a much more pragmatic view of how their country should interact with France, and with the Western world, starts to take over. The Algeria this generation will inherit is a work in progress, in apparent mid-step between the socialist anticolonialism of decades past and a turn toward free-market economics and partnership with Western countries. 

France and Algeria remain closely linked by, language, migration, and a complex history. For Osmane, a Paris-educated business consultant, the country that tortured his grandfather is also the one that helped offer him a path to achievement.

“I’d have liked to study in the UK or US, but it’s more complicated,” he says. “France for us is the gateway to the West.”


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