One of my favourite Algerian personnalities is El Amir Abdel-Kader (born Sept. 6, 1808, near Mascara, Algeria — died May 26, 1883, Damascus, Syria). I like his political acumen and his ardour in fighting off the French colonizers (the resistance battles he led against the French troops lasted 15 years). I find it wonderful how these qualities were combined with a chivalrous humanism which earned him the respect of even his enemies.
El Amir Abdel-Kader was likened to George Washington (who is often referred to as ‘Father of His Country’) as he is considered to be the founder of modern Algeria. I tend to agree with this comparison and if anyone deserves the title of ‘Father of Algeria’, it would be this man in my opinion.“He organized a true state, imposing equal taxes and suppressing the privileges of the warlike tribes. He fortified the interior towns, opened arsenals and workshops, and expanded education. The French overpowered his forces and arrested him by 1846. Upon his parole in 1853, he chose a life of exile, eventually settling in Damascus. Revered for his exemplary life and ideals, in 1860 he showed himself to be a model of decency and probity when, at great risk to his own safety, he sheltered thousands of Christians during a Druze uprising”. [Source: biography.com]
Apparently there is a village in Missouri which was named after the Emir in 1846. Today it’s known as Elkader, Iowa. Also, in 2006, a new place in the 5th parisian arrondissement which houses the Institut du Monde Arabe and la Grande Mosquée, was named after El Amir Abdel-Kader and according to the mayor, Bertrand Delanoë, El Amir is a “personnage magnifique” through whom the French capital would like to “rendre hommage au peuple algérien“. As for the reason for this particular choice, the mayor explained that:
“Quand j’honore l’Emir Abdelkader, je sais que j’honore un nationaliste qui s’est battu contre la France, qui n’acceptait pas la domination de son peuple par le peuple français. C’est aussi le sens de cette inauguration”. So there you go, if you understand what he meant don’t hesitate to share your wisom.
Last year, Algeria celebrated the 200th anniversary of the Emir Abdel-Kader’s birth.