Young Algerians

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A group of French-educated men who, early in the twentieth century, became the first Algerians to attempt reform within the colonial political system.

Estimated to number between 1,000 and 1,200, the Young Algerians (Jeunes Algériens) included intellectuals, members of the liberal professions, and individuals who had succeeded within French business circles. Most prominent among the group's members were Dr. Benthami Ould Hamida, Omar Bouderba, Fekar Ben Ali, Chérif Benhabylès, andbeginning in 1913Khaled ibn Hashimi ibn Hajj Abd alQadir, grandson of Algerian patriot Abd al-Qadir.

While there were differences in the emphases of the Young Algerians, most were attempting to win for themselves rights approximating those of Frenchmen. Their agenda, before World War I, included exemption of at least some Algerians from the exceptive Code de l'Indigénat, more equitable distribution of taxes, easier access to French citizenship, and greater political participation for the educated. The agenda also included programs for the masses, including greater access to education, opening of grazing and forest lands, protections for property, and more careful monitoring of government abuse.

Despite support from many liberals in France, attempts to negotiate concessions failed in 1913 and 1914, largely because of colon opposition. During World War I, when thousands of Algerians served in the French armed forces, a grateful Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau promised reform. The resulting Jonnart Law of 4 February 1919, however, was viewed by most Young Algerians as being very far from what they had been promised. For a few years after the war, Khaled ibn Hashimi ibn Hajj Abd al-Qadir continued to lead the movement for reform within the system, but, by 1923, he gave up the effort and went into exile in the Near East.

see also code de l'indigénat.

john ruedy