The journal review. 1er November, in the 8 p.m. newspaper of TF1, the Prime Minister, Jean Castex, questioned the idea that “We should self-flag, regret colonization, I don’t know what else”. Emmanuel Macron, then a candidate for the presidential election, judged, on February 14, 2017, on an Algerian television channel, that colonization had been “A crime against humanity”.
If – pure hypothesis – a law were to separate these two points of view, it would be a “law of memory”. There are now four in France. The Gayssot law of July 13, 1990 made it possible to penalize negationism. The law of January 29, 2001 recognizes the Armenian genocide of 1915. The Taubira law of May 21, 2001 qualifies the transatlantic trafficking as a crime against humanity. The Mekachera law of February 23, 2005, “Recognition of the nation (…) in favor of French repatriates ”, almost kept an article – repealed in February 2006 after strong disputes – claiming the “Positive role” of colonization.
Debates on memorial laws are recurrent in France. They divide not only the political world but also historians, many of whom remain opposed to what they see as state intrusion into their work.
Lots of “undemocratic” laws
Entitled “Memorial laws in Europe”, this special issue of the journal Parliament[s], coordinated by researcher Sébastien Ledoux, shows that this issue has an international dimension. Through some fifteen contributions, the phenomenon is studied both in its historical depth, in its diversity (certain laws sanction, such as the Gayssot law, while others have above all a commemorative and symbolic dimension) and in its very different national versions, without forgetting the European framework.
Far from being the “Purely French legislative sport” decried by the historian Pierre Nora in a column published in The world of December 27, 2011, memorial laws have tended to multiply for about thirty years. Their political motivations may be very distant and reflect, as in Turkey, the passage from a democratic context to that of authoritarian regression.
Likewise, the liberation from the Soviet yoke of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe gave rise to a series of laws recognizing the crimes committed by the former communist regimes, but this emancipatory approach has turned around, especially in Poland, Hungary and Russia. , in a new dogmatism. Even it penalizes historical research, in favor of a glorifying national story.
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