The Crémieux Decree

The Crémieux Decree was passed in Algeria in October 1870 granting French citizenship to Algerian Jews but not to Muslims, effectively dividing indigenous Algerians with a potent political wedge. The Decree transformed the structure of the Algerian Jewish community, which had prior been autonomous and self-governed by Jewish religious law. As French citizens, Algerian Jews were subject to secular French laws, which prompted some dissent among the Jewish community. French colonists and colonial leaders in Algeria did not themselves accept the Jews as fellow citizens, and expressed a considerable amount of anti-Semitic sentiment particular during the period of the Dreyfus Affair. This worsened in the coming century with the rise of the Nazi Party in the years leading to World War II, and of the Algerian Jews who had settled in France, an estimated 3,000 were deported.

The Crémieux Decree was abolished in October 1940 under the Vichy government, and the same anti-Jewish laws promulgated in France were imposed in Algeria. Notably, some of the Algerian Jews received assistance from their Muslim neighbors. The Decree was reinstated in 1943 through a combination of Jewish lobbying and American diplomatic efforts and remained in effect until the 1962 Algerian independence, at which point nearly the entire Algerian Jewish population relocated to France.

Sources:

Pierre Birnbaum, “French Jews and the ‘Regeneration’ of Algerian Jewry,” Jews and the State: Dangerous Alliances and the Perils of Privilege, ed. Ezra Mendelsohn (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), pp. 88-103.

Azzedine Haddour, Colonial Myths: History and Narrative (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000).

See also: Algeria, France, Judaism