ALGIERS, Algeria (AFP)—Algerian Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia on Jan. 7 urged Turkey to stop trying to make political capital out of France’s killing of thousands of Algerians during the colonial period.
He made the call as Turkey continued to assail Paris ahead of a French Senate vote on a bill that would make it a crime for anyone to deny that the killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks amounted to genocide.
Turkey has accused France of hypocrisy for its own hand in killings committed in its former colony, Algeria, in 1945 and during the North African nation’s struggle for independence between 1954-62.
“An estimated 15 percent of the Algerian population was massacred by the French from 1945 onwards,” the Turkish prime minister said. “This is a genocide.”
Ouyahia said every country has the right to defend its interests, but “nobody has the right to make the blood of Algerians their business.”
French forces cracked down on a protest in the east Algerian city of Setif on May 8, 1945, to call for an end to French colonial rule, leaving 45,000 people dead, according to Algerian historians.
Western researchers put the death toll at between 8,000 and 18,000.
Ouyahia noted that Turkey was a member of NATO during the war in Algeria and provided material support to France.
“We say to our [Turkish] friends: Stop making capital out of Algeria’s colonization,” Ouyahia said at a press conference.
The French Lower House approved the genocide bill on Dec. 22, and the Senate is expected to vote on it by the end of January.
If enacted, anyone denying that the massacre of Armenians by Ottoman-Turk forces amounted to genocide could face jail time.