Ordeal in Algeria

Ordeal in Algeria

Ordeal in Algeria

Ordeal in Algeria

Excerpt

The older handbooks tell us that Algeria is a country of North Africa, bounded on the north by the Mediterranean, on the south by the Sahara, on the east by Tunisia, and by Morocco on the west. Accounts written after 1830 claim that Algeria belongs to France by right of conquest. They tell us, too, that the boundaries are in part undetermined. The name Algeria (Algérie) was used in 1839 for the first time in an official French document.

Arab geographers and historians made good sense when they referred to the Maghrib, or Moghrib, meaning "the West"--the area between Bougie and Biskra westward to the Atlantic. These writers recognized the essential cultural, geographical, and economic unities of this junction of the Mediterranean with northwestern Africa. Sometimes they included the area of Tripoli eastward and, occasionally, Spain after the conquest. This older name was evidence that no natural geographic or cultural frontiers separated the modern areas of Tunisia and Morocco from Algeria. In this particular long view of history "Algeria is the Maghrib," not France. The medieval Arab writers were also aware that the Maghrib, or Africa Minor as it was sometimes called, attached itself much more intimately to the Mediterranean than to the African continent.

The recorded story of conquest and settlement has supported this view. Phoenicians, Romans, Vandals, Byzantines, Arabs, Otto-

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