The Rosetta Stone, Obelisks & Delacroix


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Fantasia arabe by Eugène Delacroix, 1833 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

800px-Women_of_algiers_1834_950px (2)

Women of Algiers by Eugène Delacroix, 1834 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Egyptology and Orientalisme

The Rosetta Stone

There was a period of Egyptomania, just as there had been a period of turquerie. Interest in Egypt followed Napoléon’s campaign in Egypt and Syria (1798 – 1801).

Napoléon was defeated by Horatio Nelson of the British Royal Navy at the Battle of the Nile, in 1801. By then l’Armée d’Orient had spent three years in the Near East or Asia Minor and all things oriental had become immensely popular, obelisks in particular. Bonaparte’s objective was to undermine British trade with India. He failed, but, in 1799, Pierre-François Bouchard, an officer in the French Army discovered the Rosetta Stone. Egyptology was born. The Rosetta Stone was a rock stele with inscriptions in 1) Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, 2) Demotic script, a predecessor to Ancient Coptic, and 3) Greek script.

Jean-François Champollion  (23 December 1790 – 4 March 1832), a French scholar, deciphered the Rosetta Stone’s Egyptian hieroglyphs. British polymath Thomas Young (13 June 1773 – 10 May 1829) had translated the Demotic script and had made some progress deciphering the Egyptian hieroglyphs. However, success evaded Young, but Champollion achieved his goal.

The stone, a rock stele, had been transported to the British Museum where it is still housed. The British had defeated the French at the above-mentioned Battle of the Nile, in 1801, led by the legendary Horatio Nelson. The Rosetta Stone was therefore a British acquisition.

Deciphering: phonetic or ideographic

A main obstacle to linguists deciphering a newly found language is whether or not the symbols of the language are phonetic (sounds) or ideographic (images). In the case of the Rosetta Stone, they were both phonetic and ideographic. The Egyptian hieroglyphs were also a paraphrase rather than a translation of the Ancient Greek script. His knowledge of Ancient Greek and progress in mastering Eastern languages helped Champollion decipher hieroglyphs. He published his results in 1822. Later in the decade, after visiting Egypt, Champollion published further findings.

images (2)

Rosetta Stone (National Geographic)


The exotic has always fascinated artists and all manner of designers. Obelisks, not to be confused with Odalisques, were plentiful and were taken by ship to Europe, or, at times, made in Europe. I have often wondered whether or not Maelzel, who invented the modern metronome in 1815, was influenced by obelisks. Mechanical metronomes are shaped like elongated pyramids. The Washington Monument is an obelisk. (See List of obelisks in Rome, Wikipedia.)


The Lateran Obelisk, Rome (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The largest obelisk, the Lateran obelisk, is located in Rome. When it was transported from Alexandria to Rome, it weighed 455 tons and stood at 37.2 meters (122 feet)  After its collapse, a higher obelisk was built: 45.7 meters (149.9 feet). The Lateran obelisk was made for the temple of Amun in Karnak. At the very top of the rebuilt obelisk stands a crucifix, which could explain the difference in height. Most Oriental obélisques were viewed as precious and pillaged. Obelisks had several destinations and smaller ones were used in the decorative arts. Many are engraved with names or very intricate bas-reliefs.


Obélisque de Paris, gravure (Photo credit: Le 

Eugène Delacroix

Eugène Delacroix (26 April 1798 – 13 August 1863) was a Romantic painter as well as a lithographer. Lithographs are copies and therefore more affordable than an original painting. Movement is a main characteristic of Delacroix paintings and it suggests passion. The Romantics expressed their sentiments. Such paintings as the Massacre at Chios and the Death of Sardanapalus convey despair. The Massacre at Chios depicts Greek survivors of a massacre awaiting to be taken as prisoners or slaves. The enslavement of prisoners was a common fate after a victory and they could remain captives for many years, if a ransom were not paid. Before committing suicide, having suffered a final defeat, Sardanapalus has eunuchs kill his concubines.

It is said, however, that in real life Delacroix controlled his passions: reason over passion. He was with near certainty an illegitimate son of the very famous Talleyrand, a Prince and, arguably, the most powerful man in France. He was Napoleon’s éminence grise and may have orchestrated his defeat at Waterloo. Talleyrand is also the man behind the Congress of Vienna (1815), an event foretelling of such partitioning as the Sykes-Picot Agreement.

As for Delacroix, the leader of the French Romantics, his father protected him discreetly and promoted his career. After Talleyrand’s death, Delacroix was the protégé of the Duke of Morny, Talleyrand’s grandson.


Delacroix early in his career (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


I intended to show the art of several Orientalists, one of whom is Delacroix who actually travelled to the Near East. My favourite orientalist is Jean-Léon Gérôme, but there are gems among Horace Vernet’s paintings and the artwork of other Orientalists. Orientalism crossed the English Channel and grew into an inspiration to members of the Aesthetic Movement, next to Japonism. The Orient became affordable as a decorative art.

In 2011, art critic Julia Cartwright exclaimed:

“There are lovely things at every turn, Persian potteries, hangings of every variety, cabinets and rugs. I fell in love with a sunflower paper at fourpence ha’penny a yard.”
(The Guardian)

Love to everyone 



Greece on the Ruins of Missolonghi, 1826 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

© Micheline Walker
30 August 2016









Odalisques & Arabesques


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The Turkish Bath, 1862, oil on canvas, diam. 108 cm, Louvre. A summation of the theme of female voluptuousness attractive to Ingres throughout his life, rendered in the circular format of earlier masters. (Caption credit: Wikipedia; Photo credit: Google images)


Grande Odalisque, 1814, oil on canvas, 91 x 162 cm, Louvre. The subject’s elongated proportions, reminiscent of 16th-century Mannerist painters, reflect Ingres’s search for the pure form of his model. (Photo and caption credit: Wikipedia)


We have seen a few examples of Islamic art and Orientalisme. The paintings featured above are by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (29 August 1780 – 14 January 1867) and constitute examples of orientalisme and exoticism, paintings associated with the Orient, the Near East. Several Europeans had gone to the Crusades centuries earlier. Their destination was Jerusalem, the Holy Land. But 19th-century orientalisme is associated with Napoléon‘s military campaigns. Napoléon took his Armée d’Orient to Egypt and Syria. (See French Campaign in Egypt and Syria, Wikipedia.) Egyptology was born at that time. Deciphering the Rosetta Stone, found in 1799, was one of its first and chief achievements.

We looked at the art of Jean-Léon Gérôme who had travelled to Egypt and returned with a large supply of ‘images,’ sketches. He depicted scenes from ordinary activities, genre painting. Ingres, however, had not travelled to the orient, the Near East. His style was the same as Gérôme: academicism. Moreover, both artists specialized in historical painting. Several artists travelled to the Near East, but no Orientaliste ever entered a haremun sérail, where women were guarded by castrated servants called eunuchs. Yet, Orientalists did paint the interior of harems and Turkish baths, favourite scenes.

“Some of the most popular Orientalist genre scenes—and the ones most influential in shaping Western aesthetics—depict harems. Probably denied entrance to authentic seraglios, male artists relied largely on hearsay and imagination, populating opulently decorated interiors with luxuriant odalisques, or female slaves or concubines (many with Western features), reclining in the nude or in Oriental dress. Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780–1867) never traveled to the East, but used the harem setting to conjure an erotic ideal in his voluptuous odalisques.”[1] (Orientalisme at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.)

Ingres’ Grande Odalisque shows an elongated female body. Painting elongated figures is a characteristic of 16th-century mannerism. However, Ingres’ odalisque is somewhat reminiscent of the curvy linear arabesque motifs of Islamic art. Yet, it isn’t busy. La Grande Odalisque has been an inspiration to several artists, one of whom is Matisse. It otherwise ressembles Jacques-Louis David‘s (30 August 1748 – 29 December 1825) depiction of Madame Récamieran unfinished but celebrated portrait. For information on this painting, see Madame Récamier, Louvre. You may also visit the Wikipedia site on Juliette Récamier.



Madame Récamier by Jacques-Louis David, 1800 (Photo cedit: Wikipedia)

Juliette Récamier
 (4 December 1777 – 11 May 1849) was a salonnière who had married Jacques-Rose Récamier (1751 – 1830), a wealthy older man and banker, on 24 April 1793. The marriage was never consummated and rumour has it that he was her father. In 1805, Jacques-Rose sustained financial losses. (See Juliette Récamier, Wikipedia.) He and Juliette had a salon where they entertained distinguished guests, but she retired at l’Abbaye-aux-BoisThe salons survived the French RevolutionJuliette had befriended François-René de Chateaubriand  (4 September 1768 –4  July 1848), the author of Le Génie du Christianisme (1802), a literary monument that incorporated Atala and René, exotic novellas based on Chateaubriand’s stay in North America. He was an aristocrat and therefore fled France during part of the French Revolution. When Chateaubriand started to live as a recluse, Juliette Récamier was the only person he visited. He visited her every day. In David’s painting, she is leaning on a sofa now called a récamier, after her. By clicking on Madame Récamier, one can read what the Louvre has to say about this very famous painting.


Arabesque motif (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Orientalisme also includes Arabesques in music.

Arabesques, Turkish music, are composed in the Phrygian mode. This form of music was used by Claude Debussy and other composers. It was orientalisme, “in the manner of,” rather than Turkish music. I have inserted two pieces by Debussy.

There are several orientaliste painters. You will find names: Eugène Delacroix, Alexandre-Gabriel Decamps, Jean-Léon Gérôme, William Holman Hunt, etc. at Orientalisme, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MMA), in New York. Our black bashi-basouk, an irregular soldier, or mercenary (a hired soldier), is housed at the MMA, in New York.

Let me conclude by recommending you read Orientalisme and Madame Récamier.  At this point, my continuing to write about this topic would be repetitious and not as and complete and concise as the documents I have referred to. I will note, however, that interest in the Orient takes us back to Marco Polo and the above-mentioned Crusades. Moreover, Islamic art includes elegant calligraphy, Islamic calligraphy, and illuminated manuscripts.

Love to every one.


Sources and Resources


[1] Meagher, Jennifer. “Orientalism in Nineteenth-Century Art.” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. (October 2004)


Claude Debussy
Arabesque Nos 1 & 2
Stephen Malinowski (piano and animation)



Calligraphy (Christie’s)


© Micheline Walker
27 August 2016

On the Collapse of the Ottoman Empire


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Triple Entente (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A 1914 Russian poster in which the upper inscription reads “agreement”. The uncertain Britannia (right) and Marianne (left) look to the determined Mother Russia (centre) to lead them in the coming war. (Caption credit: Wikipedia)


The Zykes-Picot Agreement

  • the Triple Entente
  • the Turkish War of Independence
  • the partition of the Ottoman Empire

We are going back to the Zykes-Picot Agreement of 1916, a secret partitioning of the Ottoman Empire. It had an enormous impact on the 20th century and beyond. The Agreement was negotiated by Mark Zykes (England) and François Georges-Picot (France) and was signed by Edward Grey, for Britain, and Paul Cambon, for France.

In 1914, Britain had declared war on the Ottoman Empire and expected a victory, which meant that the Ottoman Empire would, in all likelihood, be partitioned. Britain and France had spheres of influence in the Ottoman Empire. So did Imperial Russia, which explains why the Zykes-Picot Agreement is also called the Triple Entente. Imperial Russia was to get Istanbul (still named Constantinople since the birth, in 325 CE, of Christianity as an institution), the Turkish Straits and Armenia. The image above, shows a Russian poster, with the word agreement or concord written at the top. The figures represents France, Russia and England. However, by 1918, Imperial Russia had fallen to the Bolsheviks (1917) and the Czar and his family had been executed on 17 July 1918. By then, the Russian Civil War had erupted (November 1917-October 1922), opposing the Red Army and the White Army. The Zykes-Picot Agreement nevertheless remains a triple entente because Russia had assented to the Agreement.

Given that the Allied powers (France, England, the United States and other allies) won World War I, the Ottoman Empire was partitioned. By and large, its partitioning was consistent with the terms of the Zykes-Picot Agreement, but the negotiations were carried out by the newly founded League of Nations, established on 21 October 1919. A first attempt resulted in the disputed Treaty of Sèvres (10 August 1920). The treaty was renegotiated at Lausanne, Switzerland, resulting in the Treaty of Lausanne (24 July 1923). The Treaty of Lausanne partitioned the fallen Ottoman Empire and also recognized the independence of Turkey and its borders. The Turkish War of Independence was fought between 19 May 1919 and 24 July 1923, the day the Treaty of Lausanne was signed. The last Sultan, Mehmed VI, went into exile on 17 November 1922, but the Ottoman Caliphate was not abolished until 3 March 1924. The last Caliph, Abdülmecid II left for Paris, where he died in 1944. The Ottoman Empire had lasted 700 years, a very long time.

As for the manner in which the Ottoman Empire  was partitioned, allow me to quote an earlier post:

Britain would rule Palestine as a Mandatory Palestine, from 1923 until 1948, as well as a Mandatory Iraq (Mesopotamia) from 1920 until 1932. France would rule a mandatory Syria and Lebanon, referred to as the French Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon (1923 −1946), as well as Alexandretta (İskenderun, now in Turkey).


Treaty of Versailles, Emir Faisal and Lawrence of Arabia (r.)

Emir Faisal’s delegation at Versailles, during the Paris Peace Conference of 1919. Left to right: Rustum Haidar, Nuri as-Said, Prince Faisal, Captain Pisani (behind Faisal), T. E. Lawrence, unknown person, Captain Tahsin Kadry. (Caption and photo credit: Wikipedia)


Chaim Weizmann and Emir Faisal in 1918 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Balfour Declaration of 1917

The Balfour Declaration of 1917 seems to contradict promises made to Arab leaders. There was no mention of a homeland for the Jewish people in the Sykes-Picot Agreement. In fact, the Balfour Declaration negated the UK’s “promises to Arabs” through T. E. Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia. Britain had promised a “national Arab homeland” in return for the support of Emir Faisal in opposing the Ottoman Empire. Under Emir (his title) Faisal, Arabs did revolt against the Ottoman Empire (see the Damascus Protocol, the McMahon-Hussein Correspondence, and the Arab Revolt, Wikipedia).

Yet, on 2 November 1917, British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour had sent a letter to Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild which we are familiar with and which was looked upon as a promise. It read:

His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country. (See Balfour Declaration, Wikipedia.)

If read closely and completely, this letter is somewhat confusing. As of “it being clearly understood,” it introduces conditions: “[N]othing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine[.]” After World War II, Britain opposed the partitioning of Palestine. At that point, the country promoting the creation of Israel was not Britain. It was the United States, at least briefly. US President Harry S Truman had befriended a Zionist.[1] When the State of Israel was created, President Truman was the first leader to recognize the new state, despite protests on the part of Palestinians. The Holocaust had claimed the life of 6 million Jews. It was horrific. By comparison, the Palestinian Exodus of 1948 did not make many victims, but for the people of Palestine, losing their home was tragic.


Eliahu Elath presenting ark to President Truman

Despite growing conflict between Palestinian Arabs and Palestinian Jews and despite the Department of State’s endorsement of a trusteeship, Truman ultimately decided to recognize the state Israel.

However, I am now reading that Harry Truman, “initially opposed the creation of a Jewish state.”

As president, Truman initially opposed the creation of a Jewish state. Instead, he tried to promote an Arab-Jewish federation or binational state. He finally gave up in 1947 and endorsed the partition of Palestine into separate states, but he continued to express regret in private that he had not achieved his original objective, which he blamed most often on the “unwarranted interference” of American Zionists. After he had recognized the new state, he pressed the Israeli government to negotiate with the Arabs over borders and refugees; and expressed his disgust with “the manner in which the Jews are handling the refugee problem.”  (in “Was Harry Truman a Zionist?”  The New Republic)

The above could be revisionism, but both sides lost opportunities for peaceful coexistence. (See Palestine-Israel Journal, Sources and Resources.)

In 1917, Chaim Weizmann‘s own rebuttal to Arthur Balfour: but we had Jerusalem when London was a marsh” obscured reality.[2] Israel had not “had” Jerusalem for two thousand years. In fact, the diaspora had begun several hundred years before the birth of Christ. Jesus of Nazareth was a Jew who lived in occupied Palestine. However, Dr Weizmann’s rebuttal was a powerful metaphor and it evoked an equally powerful mythos as in mythology).  The Jews were the chosen  people and had a Promised Land. Britannica’s entry reads as follows:

Although the term refers to the physical dispersal of Jews throughout the world, it also carries religious, philosophical, political, and eschatological connotations, inasmuch as the Jews perceive a special relationship between the land of Israel and themselves. Interpretations of this relationship range from the messianic hope of traditional Judaism for the eventual “ingathering of the exiles” to the view of Reform Judaism that the dispersal of the Jews was providentially arranged by God to foster pure monotheism throughout the world.[3]

In the immediate aftermath of the Holocaust, the Jewish people needed a “promised land” and despite ambivalence regarding the creation of the State of Israel, it does appear that US President Harry Truman won the day. The Jewish population of Europe had been slaughtered, which preyed on every mind.

However, I am now reading that, following Brexit, British Jews have been applying for German citizenship and applicants will be successful. They have a right of return.

There are, however, separate rules for Jewish and political refugees from Hitler’s Reich. Under the principle of “restored citizenship”, German Basic Law ( Grundgesetz) stipulates that “former German citizens who between January 30, 1933 and May 8, 1945 were deprived of their citizenship on political, racial, or religious grounds, and their descendants, shall, on application, have their citizenship restored”.  

In fact, there is a small Jewish community in Germany. Among survivors of the Holocaust, some returned to their German homes. After denazification, it was a safe option, safer than moving to Israel. No sooner was Israel created than war erupted. (See Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Wikipedia.)


I am ending this post. The above shows, albeit incompletely, that Europeans demonstrated eurocentrism when drafting the Zykes-Picot Agreement, the term still used in reference to the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire. The Zykes-Picot Agreement led to the creation of protectorates. As for the Balfour Declaration of 1917, the letter sent by Arthur Balfour to Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild, dated 2 November 1917, expresses strong but conditional support for the creation of a national homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine. The quotation must be read in its entirety. According to the Palestine-Israel Journal,

In reality the proposed Jewish state was to be a bi-national one, simply because the Arab Palestinians constitute approximately half the population and owned much more land than the Jews. (See Palestine-Israel Journal.)

I have included a photograph of Chaim Weizmann and Emir Faisal in 1918. It could be that peace would reign in the Middle East had negotiations taken place between the parties concerned at the time the Balfour Declaration was signed. The central motivation in partitioning the Ottoman Empire seems to have been the protection of European spheres of influence in the Middle East.

The Zykes-Picot Agreement still resonates. The Israeli-Palestine conflict is an issue in the current crisis in the Middle East.

Nations must sit around a table, as equals, and their objective has to be peace, not the protection of spheres of influence. It cannot be a repay of the Treaty of Versailles which was a punitive conclusion to hostilities that would generate further hostilities. It was another example of the eurocentrism characterizing the Zykes-Picot Agreement.

Let there be peace!  

Apologies for the long absence due to health issues: anemia.
Love to everyone


Sources and Resources


[1] “Zionism”. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2016. Web. 23 Aug. 2016

[2] “Mr. Balfour, supposing I was to offer you Paris instead of London, would you take it?” He sat up, looked at me, and answered: “But Dr. Weizmann, we have London.” “That is true,” I said, “but we had Jerusalem when London was a marsh.” He … said two things which I remember vividly. The first was: “Are there many Jews who think like you?” I answered: “I believe I speak the mind of millions of Jews whom you will never see and who cannot speak for themselves.”… To this he said: “If that is so you will one day be a force.”
Weizmann, Trial and Error, p.111, as quoted in W. Lacquer, The History of Zionism, 2003, ISBN 978-1-86064-932-5. p.188 (See Balfour Declaration of 1917)

[3] “Diaspora”. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2016. Web. 21 Aug. 2016


Mendelssohn Songs without Words, Op 19 No 2
Daniel Barenboim


Abdulmecid II, the last Caliph (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

© Micheline Walker
24 April 2016










Mehmed VI, the last Sultan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


More Orientalisme by Gérôme


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Jean-Léon Gérôme (11 May 1824 – 10 January 1904)

My post on Jean-Léon Gérôme‘s OrientalismOrientalisme: Mostly Gérôme, features several bashi-bazouk. This happened inadvertently. I wanted to show the whippet dogs and the character named Arnaut. I also wanted to show a hookah, a smoking and vaporizing instrument used in the various countries of the Ottoman Empire, as well as Pakistan and India. These were popular items in the 1960s and early 1970s, when smoking cannabis became fashionable.

Gérôme’s artwork also refers to pashas (see France in North Africa), persons who occupied a high rank in the Ottoman army and/or government. Some Europeans became honorary pashas whose title could be compared to that of an Earl in Britain. (See Pasha, Wikipedia.) Other familiar scenes are mosques and harems. As a history painter, Gérôme also recorded the trading of white women, la traite des blanches, going back to the Roman Empire. Arabs were fond of white women whom they bought and enslaved. Gérôme’s paintings of harems and women bathing show white women. (See Traite des blanches, FR Wikipedia.)

I will therefore feature a few paintings that are not portraits of bashi-bazouk, the very cruel irregular soldiers of the Ottoman Empire.


The Slave Market in Rome by Gérôme, 1884 (


The Muezzin by Gérome, 1865, (Joslyn Art Museum)


Prayer in Cairo by Jean-Léon Gérôme, 1865 (MMA, NY)


Harem Women Feeding Pigeons in a Courtyard by Gérôme, no date (


Napoléon in Egypt by Gérôme, c. 1863 (Princeton University Art Museum)


Gérôme was a very prolific artist whose art was at times extremely engaging, which may explain why it appealed to Théophile Gautier. I have a favourite Gérôme, The Duel After the Masquerade, of which there are two copies. La Sortie du bal masqué cannot be classified as Orientalism but it speaks to me, it is evocative.

In the second half of the 19th century, when American started to go to Paris and bought works of art, art such as Gérôme’s were not purchased frequently. It was academic art. The American colony in Paris bought the works of innovators whose art was rejected at the Paris Salon. Emperor Napoleon III authorized the 1763 Salon des Refusés, an exhibition held at the Palais de l’Industrie.

Gérôme is known mainly as an academic painter. He was very well-trained and he painted as he had been taught. He was nevertheless very successful as an artist and art teacher. As noted above, Gérôme specialized in history painting, but he also created art depicting Greek mythology and he became a prominent orientalist.

Works by Gérôme are housed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, the Walters Museum of Art, Baltimore, the J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, and other museums. Many have been purchased privately, and reproductions are available. A reproduction is not as valuable as the original work of art. However, the ‘image’ is the most important element in the visual arts and Gérôme was an accomplished artist.

I have inserted Rimsky-Korsakov‘s Scheherazade, Symphonic Suite (Op. 35, 2), composed in 1888. Scheherazade is based on the One Thousand and One NightsArabian fairy tales, and constitutes an excellent example of Orientalism in music.



Pelt Merchant of Cairo, 1869 (

Jean-Léon Gérôme
Rimsky-Korsakov, Scheherazade, Symphonic Suite (Op. 35, 2)
Amir Selim


The Whirling Dervishes by Gérôme, 1895 (

© Micheline Walker
17 August 2016

Orientalism: Mostly Gérôme


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A bashi-basouk by Jean-Léon Gérôme, 1869 (



Black bashi-basouk by Jean-Léon Gérôme, 1868 (MMA, NY)

There have long been war artists. In North Africa, Horace Vernet (30 June 1789 – 17 January 1863) painted the battles that led to the French conquest of Algiers which had been part of the Ottoman Empire until 1830. The French did not conquer Lebanon and Syria, their future protectorates, but these countries had belonged to the Roman/ Byzantine Empire (330-1204 and 1261-1453) that fell to the Ottoman Empire in 1453. After World War I, Britain and France would partition the defeated Ottoman Empire into protectorates. (See Zykes-Picot Agreement, Wikipedia.)

Exoticism and Orientalism

Vernet had painted the battles that led to the conquest of Algiers, at which point he became an Orientalist. Colonialism was Eurocentrism, but exoticism was ethnocentrism and it is a characteristic of the 19th century, expressed in several areas: the fine arts, music, and design in general.

Jean-Léon Gérôme

I have mentioned Horace Vernet, the painter of battles fought in Algeria. There were in fact many Orientalists in various fields. However, our featured artist is French painter and sculptor Jean-Léon Gérôme (11 May 1824 – 10 January 1904).

French-born Jean-Léon Gérôme is associated with Academicism. He did not join avant-garde movements. He, in fact, applied for the coveted Prix de Rome, but he failed to be selected. However, having chosen Academicism, Gérôme could show his work at the Salon, the official art exhibition of the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris, held annually or bi-annually since the 17th century (1667) in Paris, held annually or bi-annually since the 17th century (1667). In 1846, he painted The Cock Fight (1846) which earned him a medal at the Salon of 1847, but, perhaps more importantly, the painting was praised by writer and critic Théophile Gautier.

Gérôme travelled to Egypt in 1856, but did not do so on an official basis. He travelled as a tourist and artist. Gérôme was a history painter. Consequently, he did paint Napoléon, although Napoléon’s campaign in Egypt and Syria (1798-1801) was a military failure. (See French campaign in Egypt and Syria, Wikipedia.)

Gérôme’s other subject matter was mythology, but in Egypt he became an Orientalist. In my last post, I featured the portrait of a black bashi-basouk. A bashi-basouk, also called delibaş, litterally a “crazy head,” was an irregular soldier in the Ottoman Army. Bashi-bazouk often chose to fight when they expected to rape and pillage. (See Bashi-basouk, Wikipedia.) As portrayed by Gérôme, bashi-basouk are colourful and seem harmless, but they committed atrocities, much as ISIL, Muslim radicals, does. One of their better-known massacres is the Batak massacre of 1876, in Bulgaria.


Bashi-bazouk chieftain by Gérôme, 1881 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Arnaut from Cairo by Gérôme, 1867 (Photo credit:


Arnaut with Two Whippet Dogs, by Jean-Léon Gérôme, 1867 (

Literature and Music

Gérôme did paint bashi-bazouk, but his range of oriental subject matter is wider and 19th-century exoticism straddles disciplines. It also includes Victor Hugo‘s Les Djinns, a famous and dazzling poem about invisible Arabian creatures, published in Hugo’s 1829 collection entitled Les Orientales

Hugo’s Les Djinns inspired composers. One is Gabriel Fauré‘s Op.12, entitled Les Djinns. Les Djinns is also a Poème Symphonique for piano and orchestra, M 45, composed in 1884 by César Franck. Hugo’s poem is splendid and can be read online in French, English and German, at Les Djinns, Op 12.


We’ve devoted several posts to Japonisme and have now entered Orientalisme. Gérôme’s Orient is d’un goût étranger, as in Marin Maraisviol pieces. (See Suitte d’un goût étranger, Wikipedia). Exoticism may depict an inner truth in an oblique way, which is one of the characteristics of works of art. Fiction is oblique.
Love to everyone.


César Franck‘s Les Djinns
Arnhem Philharmonic Orchestra (conductor Roberto Benzi)
François-Joël Thiollier (piano)
Recorded in 1995


Arnaut fumant (smoking), 1865 (Christie’s Images)

© Micheline Walker
15 August 2016



The Zykes-Picot Agreement of 1916


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Black bashi-bazouk by Jean-Léon Gérôme (MMA, NY)

The Partition of the Ottoman Empire

In my last post, I mentioned the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, which occurred during World War II, without referring to the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916. If a single event throws light on today’s conflicts in the Middle East, it would probably be the Sykes-Picot Agreement or Convention, also called the Asia Minor Agreement.

The Sykes-Picot Agreements of 1916 (Britannica) (see Sykes-Picot Agreement, Wikipedia), was a secret agreement between England and France, concluded with the assent of Imperial Russia. Its authors drew a map of Asia Minor protecting their “spheres of influence” in the Middle East in the event the Ottoman Empire collapsed, which was expected, as a result of World War I.

Its authors, Mark Sykes for Britain and François Georges-Picot, for France, were in fact partitioning a fallen Ottoman Empire, before its defeat. That would be avant la lettre. As for the map of Asia Minor they drew, it was reflected in the apportioning of protectorates created by the League of Nations (LN), Société des Nations, SdN). The Ottoman Empire was defeated during W.W. I and, given the Bolshevik Revolution (the Russian Revolution) that began in 1917, Asia Minor could not be partitioned taking Imperial Russia’s assent into consideration.

According to Britannica’s entry on the Sykes-Picot Agreements of 1916, it was agreed, that the partition of the Empire would be as follows:

  1. Russia should acquire the Armenian provinces of Erzurum, Trebizond (Trabzon), Van, and Bitlis, with some Kurdish territory to the southeast;
  2. France should acquire Lebanon and the Syrian littoral, Adana, Cilicia, and the hinterland adjacent to Russia’s share, that hinterland including Aintab, Urfa, Mardin, Diyarbakır, and Mosul;
  3. Great Britain should acquire southern Mesopotamia, including Baghdad, and also the Mediterranean ports of Haifa and ʿAkko (Acre);
  4. between the French and the British acquisitions there should be a confederation of Arab states or a single independent Arab state, divided into French and British spheres of influence;
  5.  Alexandretta (İskenderun) should be a free port; and
  6.  Palestine, because of the holy places, should be under an international regime.[1]

The Ottoman Empire would be as drawn below under Britannica’s entry on the Sykes-Picot Agreements. Wikipedia indicates the same divisions.



The Ottoman Empire at its Greatest Extent, 1863 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Ottoman Empire: History

For our purposes, the Ottoman Empire had seized Byzantium in 1453 and expanded to include several nations we view as European. The Empire lasted until World War I, but date wise, it ended on 29 October 1923, after modern Turkey’s declaration of Independence. (See Turkish War of Independence, 1917-1924.) Constantinople was renamed Istanbul. Its European theatre had begun two centuries earlier and you may remember that Algeria was conquered by the Ottoman Empire, defeated by France in 1830. As the first map indicates, Armenia existed in 1916. The genocide of Armenians started during W.W. I and is imputed to the Ottoman Empire, although other countries claim responsibility for this massacre and some deny it ever happened. (See Armenian Genocide, Wikipedia.) It has been said that the Sykes-Picot agreement ended in 2014, but this date is disputed. (See Sykes-Picot Agreements, Wikipedia.)

The Sykes-Picot Agreement itself has been disputed and altered. Factors would be:

  • the Russian Revolution;
  • prior agreements or other agreements;
  • the question of Palestine and Zionism or the Balfour Declaration.

For our purposes, the Balfour Declaration, 1917, is particularly significant. Speaking on behalf of the Zionists was Chaim Weizmann (27 November 1874 – 9 November 1952). The British were represented by Arthur Balfour, the 1st Earl of Balfour (25 July 1848 – 19 March 1930). Zionism is a product of the 19th century and its father is Theodor Herzl (2 May 1860 – 3 July 1904). Herzl founded the World Zionist Organization, a movement we associate with the Jewish Agency for Israel. Jews have long been persecuted. For instance, the local Jewish population was burned during outbreaks of the plague. Jews were made into scapegoats. The Jewish Agency promoted aliyah, returning to Israel. However, although Palestine had a minority Jewish population since time almost immemorial, in 1917, there had not been a Jewish homeland for two thousand years.

In his negotiations with Lord Balfour, Dr Chaim Weizmann stated the following:

“Mr. Balfour, supposing I was to offer you Paris instead of London, would you take it?” He sat up, looked at me, and answered: “But Dr. Weizmann, we have London.” “That is true,” I said, “but we had Jerusalem when London was a marsh.” He … said two things which I remember vividly. The first was: “Are there many Jews who think like you?” I answered: “I believe I speak the mind of millions of Jews whom you will never see and who cannot speak for themselves.” … To this he said: “If that is so you will one day be a force.”
(Chaim Weizmann and Arthur Balfour)[2]

As a Canadian who spent a year in Regina, Saskatchewan, and loved it, I rather like this other formulation of the same question:

“Would you give up London to live in Saskatchewan?” When Balfour replied that the British had always lived in London, Weizmann responded, “Yes, and we lived in Jerusalem when London was still a marsh.”
(Chaim Weismann to Arthur Balfour, see Chaim Weizmann, Wikipedia.)

The secret Sykes-Picot Agreement (1916) was exposed by the British Guardian on 26  November 1917. It negated the Balfour Declaration, a letter dated 2 November 1917 sent by the United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild. It read:

His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.
(See Balfour Declaration, Wikipedia.)

There was no mention of a homeland for the Jews in the Sykes-Picot Agreement. It also negated the UK’s “promises to Arabs” through T. E. Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia. Britain had also promised a “national Arab homeland.” The Arabs revolted against the Ottoman Empire (see Arab Revolt, Wikipedia), which Britain wanted to defeat. In the end, the Mandates partitioning the defeated Ottoman Empire were issued through the League of Nations.

Britain would rule Palestine as a Mandatory Palestine, from 1923 until 1948, as well as a Mandatory Iraq (Mesopotamia) from 1920 until 1932. France would rule a mandatory Syria and Lebanon, referred to as the French Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon (1923 −1946), as well as Alexandretta (İskenderun, now in Turkey).


The Zykes-Picot Agreement (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Zones of French (blue), British (red) and Russian (green) influence and control established by the
  Sykes–Picot Agreement. At a Downing Street meeting of 16 December 1915 Sykes had declared “I should like to draw a line from the e in Acre to the last k in Kirkuk.” (Caption by Wikipedia, under Sykes-Picot Agreement.)


“‘This is not the first border we will break, we will break other borders,’ a jihadist from ISIL warned in a video titled End of Sykes-Picot.” That quotation was culled from an article published in The Guardian (UK) entitled Isis announces Islamic Caliphate in area straddling Iraq and Syria by  and , 30 June 2014. (See Sykes-Picot Agreement, Wikipedia.)

It has been a hundred years since the secret Sykes-Picot Agreement was signed, and it remains.


Sources and Resources


Love to everyone


[1] “Sykes-Picot Agreement”. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2016. Web. 11 août. 2016

[2] Chaim Weizmann, Trial and Error, p.111, as quoted in W. Lacquer, The History of Zionism, 2003, ISBN 978-1-86064-932-5. p.188 (footnote 19, quoted in Balfour Declaration, Wikipedia.)


A Tryst by Gérôme, 1840 (

© Micheline Walker
11 August 2016
corrected: 11 August 2016

The Remains of the Past


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Composite Camel, Bukhara, Islamic Art, 16c (MMA, NY)

A Scam, I think

I believe it was a scam, but I do not leave my apartment unless it is necessary. It offers safety. I’ve had to go out, but my would-be assassin did not have his “boys” at my “doorsteps.” I believe it was a failed attempt to extort money. But the police took the matter seriously.

The Remains of the Past, 1

I have been thinking about the Middle East and North Africa. A nation should never enter a sovereign country. Nor should one people look upon another people as inferior.

Let us be forgiving, but when President George W. Bush entered Iraq, at the instigation of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, he blundered. Iraq is a nation. It may have been a case of ingrained Manifest Destiny (1845), except that expansion was not the motive.

The name was changed for war on Iraq to war on Terror or Terrorism, but the war in Iraq remains an illegal war. The attacks of 9/11, which cost their life to a large number of United States citizens, nearly 3,000 in New York, did not justify invading Iraq and killing an even greater number of people: Iraqis and Americans. I will never forget that American soldiers were prescribed antidepressants so they could carry on.

One can understand that panic may have gripped US President George W Bush. President Bush probably felt that he had “to do something.” Those among us who watched the planes fly into the towers of the World Trade Centre and people jumping to a kinder death were shocked. And then one of the towers imploded. Yet, the attack did not warrant entering Iraq. Capturing Osama bin Laden had to be an intelligence operation and it required the special skills of commandos and the sensitive nose of a Malinois dog. His name was Cairo.

Terrorism & the Syrian Civil War

Matters are complicated. On the one side, peace-loving President Obama now leads a coalition fighting terrorism perpetrated by ISIL, the Islamic State. I hate to see President Obama lead the coalition fighting ISIL. He is an unlikely warrior. However, the US was unable to save Jim Foley’s life and, although Jihadi John‘s next victims were not US citizens, there was motivation to fight ISIL. (See ISIL beheading incidents, Wikipedia.) On 5 August 2016, ISIL captured 3,000 Iraqis.

The Syrian Civil War is the other side. Russian President Vladimir Putin is supporting President Bashar al-Assad. But it is my understanding that the US supports neither Assad nor the “rebels.” Assad, however, crushed the Arab Spring, revolts intended to liberalize Arab countries and introduce more democratic measures. Before the Arab Spring, Assad seemed unlikely to commit crimes against humanitybut, at the moment, his regime is looked upon as an authoritarian regime. What happened? I view Assad as an enigma.

The Remains of the Past, 2

  • the Ottoman Empire
  • protectorates
  • a refugee crisis (W. W. II)
  • the creation of Israel
  • the Six-Day War

Let us look at the past once again, a past preceding the wars of the 2000s. It may be useful to note that after the fall of the Ottoman Empire, or Turkish Empire, targeted during World War Iprotectorates were formed by the League of Nations (the ancestor to the United Nations). Syria and Lebanon were both protectorates of the French. (See French Mandate for Syria and Lebanon, Wikipedia.) As for Palestine, it was a protectorate of Britain until the creation of a state of Israel, on 14 May 1948. Palestine was partitioned on 29 November 1947, so a home would be given the Israelis.[1]

The partition of Palestine and, a few months later, the creation of Israel were offensive to the Arab world. Moreover, the United States played an important role in granting Zionists their promised land. I believe one can suggest that the partition of Palestine may have tarnished the image of the United States in the Arab world. Ironically, it all began as a refugee crisis. Jews had fled to Israel to escape Hitler’s concentration camps and gas chambers.

At any rate, Jews had been victimized and Britain’s mandate for Palestine was about to expire. Therefore, although the British opposed the partition of Palestine, it had allowed it by virtue of the Balfour Declaration of 1917. Britain itself had promised Zionists a home in Palestine. Consequently, Israel was created. US President Harry Truman supported the Balfour Declaration and recognized the State of Israel almost as soon as it was created.

The creation of Israel remains a contentious issue. I noted that the United States’ initial support for the creation of Israel may have fuelled division between the Arab world and the United States. Moreover, in 1967, Israel waged its Six-Day War. The Israeli annexed the Golan Heights, two-thirds of which was Palestinian territory and one-third, Syrian territory. The Golan Heights have yet to be returned to Palestine and Syria. Israel’s failure to leave the territories it has occupied since 1967 is considered disrespectful and it constitutes an obstacle to peace. (See Golan Heights, Wikipedia.)


The above does not explain why a person claiming to be a member of al-Qaeda would want to kill me and, if the letter is not a scam, I do not know who would hire anyone to deprive me of the rest of my life. My would-be assassin wrote that he had been paid to kill.

However, this post may serve to illustrate that US President George W Bush could not enter Iraq after the attack of 9/11. Mr Blair’s advice was injudicious. I will emphasize however that although the war in Syria is a Civil War, the United States is not involved, other than indirectly. The Syrian Civil War has led to a refugee crisis which affects the United States. The refugees are mainly Muslims and certain politicians seeking office would like to prevent refugees from entering their country. These politicians believe all Muslims are potential terrorists. Generally speaking, this is not the case, but certain refugees are resorting to violence. An asylum seeker has been convicted of killing a Swedish refugee centre worker. Despair can lead to violence and violence breeds violence.

Former Swedish PM: Coup in Turkey would have led to refugee disaster in Europe

A Solution

There is of course a solution to the migrant problem, which is to end the Syrian Civil War. This would be for Bashar al-Assad and other Middle East leaders to do. Assad is President of Syria, but Assad is … an enigma. He has managed to survive for several years, but I now wonder whether or not Assad is a free man. He seems an unlikely tyrant. He signs orders, but he may be compelled to do so. Yet, peace is the only solution and he is the President of Syria.

Bashar al-Assad is an Alawite (Shia) Muslim, but he is married to the daughter of Sunni Muslims. Asma al-Assad was born, raised, and educated in London. Sunni Islam  opposes Shia Islam and both sides are divided into factions. Assad is a Shia Muslim, but I doubt that he is the enemy of Sunni Muslims. Moreover, he is westernised. Bashar al-Assad is a medical doctor who met his wife when he was in London, furthering his studies in ophthalmology. He was recalled to Syria when his brother died in an accident.

As I wrote in an earlier post, it is for Islam to determine its future and I cannot see how the refugee crisis can end if Assad does not help make Syria safe. He seems to be attacking his people. In certain European countries, the impact of the refugee crisis is devastating. It is taking a toll on the EU, the European Union, and desperate people are resorting to violence. This seems to be the case in Sweden where instances of violence have been reported.

The refugee crisis saddens me enormously.

Sources and Resources


[1] Kermit Roosevelt,“Partition of Palestine, a Lesson in Pressure Politics,” The Institute of Arab American Affairs, Pamphlet No 7, 1948. Internet Archive.

It has been a long absence.
Love to everyone.


Portrait of a Sufi,” Bukhara, Islamic Art,  16c (MMA, NY)

© Micheline Walker
8 August 2016






Extortion: “I’ll kill you”


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Marie Laurencin, 1904 (Google Images)

Yesterday morning, I received an email in which I was told I would be killed. My killer claimed he was from al-Qaeda.

In theory, I was murdered last night because I did not respond. The killer wanted money. I was to supply him with part of the money after which he would tell me who hated me so much that I should pay with my life. He would also provide me with tapes of conversations with the person who hates me. I would then give him the rest of the money he requested and my life would be spared. Failure to comply meant instant death and harm to my family.

I did not respond, i.e. comply, because I am certain my would-be killer wanted money and that he used the crisis in the Middle East to scare me. I don’t have enemies, so who would want me dead?

I am told that my telephone is bugged, that I am being watched, and that his “boys” are at my doorsteps.

Needless to say, I was instructed not to talk to anyone or phone the police. I waited until today, but did phone the police so that they would know about this latest scam. One does not reply to such emails nor does one send money. It’s extortion.

A police officer came by so he could see the email and collect information.


We must make absolutely sure migrants are not humiliated and that they are given homes and comfortable temporary shelters. Yes, it’s expensive, but so is war. In fact, war is more expensive and children are killed. The carnage has to end now!  I am not giving up on Bashar al-Assad. If he wishes to remain President of Syria, his best option is to be a father to his people.



Love to everyone. 

Léo Ferré sings Apollinaire‘s Marie


© Micheline Walker
1 August 2016






Algeria: second-class citizens


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La Prise de Constantine, 1837, Horace Vernet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Crémieux Decree, 1870

  • France and Sephardi Jews
  • France and native Algerians
  • Algerian Islamism

On 24 October 1870, during the Franco-Prussian War, the Crémieux decree granted  French citizenship to 35 thousand Sephardi Jews living in French Algeria. The decree was named after French-Jewish lawyer and Minister of Justice Adolphe Crémieux. The Crémieux decree was abolished by the Vichy government from 1940 to 1943 but it benefited Algerian Jews when Algeria won its independence. They were French citizens and most chose to move to France. (See Crémieux Decree, Wikipedia.) However, initially, Sephardi Jews hesitated to accept double citizenship. They lived in a Muslim country and feared being accused of apostasy, but it would appear that native Algerians were, as Ahmed Ben Bella described himself, Islamist of a “mild and peace-loving flavour.”

During the Algerian Civil War (1992-2002), which began when the Islamic Salvation Front appeared to be winning an election causing the election to be cancelled, the government believed it had disabled the Islamic movement, but armed groups emerged to fight jihad. (See Algerian Civil War, Wikipedia.) 

In 2003, Ben Bella was elected President of the International Campaign Against Aggression on Iraq. At its Cairo Anti-war Conference,“[h]e described the militant voice rising in the Islamic world as having developed from an incorrect and faulty interpretation of Islam (my bold characters).” (See Ahmed Ben Bella, Wikipedia.) It seems Ben Bella was a moderate Muslim. Islam was his faith. I should also note that Algeria did not participate in the Arab Spring (2010).

The Code de l’indigénat: Algerian Muslims

  • Tocqueville’s Report (1847)
  • the Code of the Indiginates (Indigenous; 1887
  • two classes

The Crémieux decree had an adverse effect on the inhabitants of Algeria. Muslims could apply for French citizenship, but most of these applications were rejected. A previous Code de l’indigénat was implemented in Algeria on 14 July 1865, but the naturalization regime in French Algeria was confirmed in the Code de l’indigénat, Decree 137, in 1887, an official date. In 1887, it applied to all native citizens of French colonies.(See Indigénat, Wikipedia.)  One wonders. What had happened to Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité? A text authored by Alexis de Tocqueville, dated 1841, may have influenced the French government. In 1841, Alexis  s reported that He reported that Algeria’s Muslims were cruel, as cruel as the Turks, a view that may have spread, except that he looked upon the French as the greater barbarians. (See French Algeria, Wikipedia)

Tocqueville submitted a Report FR, dated 24 May 1847. This text is online. It was posted by Simon Pierre in Culture d’Islam (see Sources and Resources). In Algeria, a first Code de l’indigénat went into effect in 1865, before the disastrous Franco-Prussian War.

The Code de l’indigénat was equally disastrous as it  created a lower class in French Algeria. Sephardi Jews were model citizens, but not in a million years should France have declared Muslim Algerians, native Algerians, second-class citizens. This was a prelude to war, the War of Independence. If native Algerians were cruel, the Code de l’indigénat, could only result in resentment and greater cruelty. However, a certain group, called évolué (evolved) were Europeanised as a result of education and assimilation. They were an élite. The aim of French colonialism was assimilation.


Évian Accords

  • A cease-fire leading to independence
  • Assassination attempt at Clamart, France

Mistakes were made in Algeria, but de Gaulle ruled in favour of self-determination. When he first went to Algeria, French Algerians thought de Gaulle would save them. Algeria was part of France. His first speech was misleading. He seemed to favour the French colonists. However, Charles de Gaulle changed his mind. It is as though he suddenly realized that colonialism was a thing of the past, not to say a mistake, but no one expected de Gaulle would act as he did.

The Évian Accords are the context within which a cease-fire was declared. It took place on 18 March 1962 and, in a referendum held on 8 April 1962. The French approved self-determination, or the Évian Accords, with almost 91% in favour. On 1 July 1962, a second referendum took place in Algeria, with nearly everyone approving. As I wrote in an earlier post, Algeria was pronounced independent on 3 July 1962 and celebrates its independence on 5 July, Algeria’s National Day.

However, the French Algerians, the Pieds-Noirs, loved their homes, and Algeria was part of France. I doubt that French Algerians had the time to prepare. We saw that the Organisation de l’armée secrète (OAS) fought de Gaulle. I have also referred to assassination attempts. There were approximately ten, but the attentat most people remember took place on 22 August 1962, at Clamart, France. Le grand (tall) Charles claimed that his Citroën DS 19 had saved his life. Bullets from machine guns hit the car, but de Gaulle and his wife Yvonne were not hurt.

Second-Class Citizens

When it became independent, Algeria had been under foreign control for more than a thousand years[1] and the Code de l’indigénat had made Muslim Algerians second-class citizens in their own country (territory). Such classification is humiliating and it lingers. The Algerian War liberated the mostly Muslim Algerians, but did anyone apologize for the Code de l’indigénat, so it coud be put to rest. Muslims may have forgotten, but not necessarily the French. If elected to the presidency of France in 2017, Marine Le Pen will not accept immigrants, which probably means that she will not let Muslims enter the country. On 14 May 2012, under Nicolas Sarkozy, France recognized its “historical responsibility” for leaving its Harkis behind.[2] (See Harki, Wikipedia.)

Again, one wonders. What does Marine Le Pen plan to do with Muslims who have lived in France for decades? The Nice attack was a victory, albeit gruesome, for France’s Front National because Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel was a Tunisian and a Muslim. Marine Le Pen can use the attack as “proof” that Muslims are “cruel.” Doesn’t cruelty also reside in rejecting Muslim migrants. Being rejected could lead to despair and it could also lead to radicalization.

Muslims should not be treated as second-class citizens. They are victims and this cannot be said often enough. If Europe is too crowded to welcome migrants and Donald Trump locks them out of the United States, forgetting that the United States invaded Iraq in 2003 and did so illegally and with the help of Tony Blair, what will happen? The US may have an “historical responsibility.” It seems everyone has les mains sales (dirty hands, the title of a play by Jean-Paul Sartre).

Yet, the world must demand that the countries of the Middle East end the violence perpetrated by ISIL and end the Syrian Civil War, because both force Syrians to leave their country. I cannot think of another option. Moreover, all Middle East leaders should respect human rights (i.e. no torture, etc.) including King Salman of Saudi Arabia. Migrants are fleeing ISIL and autocrats, but Europe hesitates to take them in as refugees, and Islamophobia is spreading rapidly. It is well-known that, as President of the United States, Donald Trump will not allow Muslims to enter the United States. Does he not know the facts?

At any rate, the crisis in the Middle East is, to a significant extent, retaliation, and retaliation is permanent war. Since 2011, the year Bashar al-Assad did not listen to protesters, 250,000 Muslims have died and 11 million have fled their homes. They need help. If they are denied a refuge, they too could resort to violence. Or, there could be yet another genocide. We must put on the emergency brake. Muslims are not second-class citizens.

Putting on the Emergency Brake

I read yesterday that if Theresa May puts on the emergency brake (my bold characters), she would come back to Britain, a hero.

Well, it seems that putting on the emergency brake is the order of the day. Bashar al-Assad should perhaps give it a thought…


Sources and Resources

Love to everyone.

[1] Perhaps 2 thousand years. (Hé

[2] De Gaulle was criticized for leaving the Harkis behind. The Harkis served during the Franco-Prussian War (1870), the two World Wars, the war in Indochine (Vietnam), and the Algerian War of Independence.


Horace Vernet Painter Op. 23 No. 5 : Alla marcia Rachmaninov


Horace Vernet, self-portrait (Photo credit : Wikipedia)


© Micheline Walker
29 July 2016

The Algerian War: the Aftermath


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Peuples du désert, C. Novel

Leaving Algeria: the Harkis and the Shephardi Jews

In 1961, as the War of Independence was drawing to a close, Algerians were drowned in Paris. (See Massacre of 1961, Wikipedia.) Moreover, before the mass exodus to France, the French disarmed the Harkis and left them behind. Harkis, now called French Muslims of Algerian descent, had been loyal to France during the eight-year War of Independence. It is estimated that as many as 150,000 were massacred. Torture was used on both sides of this conflict, the French and the National Liberation Front (FLN), and it was deemed acceptable. Harkis had to flee and did so with the assistance of French officers acting against orders.”   

“About 91,000 managed to flee to France, some with help from their French officers acting against orders, and today they and their descendants form a significant part of the Algerian-French population.” (See Algerian WarWikipedia.)

In 1962, Sephardi Jews also fled to France and some to Israel. They had identified with the French during colonial times (1830-1962). They were the descendants of Jews who had escaped the Spanish Inquisition and many spoke Spanish. (See Algerian War, Wikipedia.)

The cease-fire was declared on 18 March 1962 by Charles de Gaulle, at great risk to his life. He would not listen to his bodyguards. De Gaulle pronounced Algeria independent on 3 July 1962 and Independence Day is celebrated on 5 July. French settlers wanted to stay in Algeria and were bitterly disappointed when De Gaulle declared a cease-fire and set about freeing Algeria. For some settlers, it was betrayal.

In fact, there was resistance. Settlers who wanted to stay in Algeria formed a secret army, the OAS, or Organisation de l’armée secrète. The OAS fought against the National Liberation Front (FLN). Both factions were Muslim Algerians. (See Algerian War, Wikipedia.)

The fate of Harkis and Sephardi Jews is discussed under various entries in Wikipedia: Algerian WarGuerre d’Algérie, Independence Day, Algeria (5 July), etc.


A Young Harki, 1961 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Aftermath: Ben Bella and Boumédiène

  • socialism
  • Arabization

After France left Algeria, the country contemplated socialism. Its first president was Ahmed ben Bella, who described himself as an Islamist of “mild and peace-loving flavour.” (See Ahmed ben Bella, Wikipedia.) The Sand War, fought in October 1963, occurred during ben Bella’s presidency. Morocco was claiming ownership of Algerian territory. Ben Bella grew into an autocrat and a thief. He was deposed by his friend and colleague Houari Boumédiène (FLN). Boumédiène was a popular leader, but he fell ill and died in 1978, at the age of 46. Houari Boumédiène also contemplated socialism and put into place measures reflecting the influence of socialism.

Algerians are not Arabs. They are descendants of Berbers who converted to Islam. As we have seen, initially, Algerians were not attracted to Islamic fundamentalism and jihadism. Consequently, when Algeria’s neighbours to the east started promoting intégrismeIslamic fundamentalismresistance to Islamism culminated in the Algerian Civil War (1991-2002).

The Algerian Civil War, 1991: Fundamentalism

The Algerian Civil War “followed a coup negating an Islamist electoral victory.” (See Algerian Civil War, Wikipedia.) In December 1991, the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) seemed about to defeat the National Liberation Front (FNL). The election was cancelled in January 1992 and a High Council of State was formed under the presidency of Chadli Bendjedid. During the Algerian Civil War, the government of Algeria, the National Liberation Front, opposed members of the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) who, contrary to the government, the FLN, were fundamentalist Muslims advocating Sunni Islamism and djihadism

Barbaric massacres occurred during the Civil War. Most followed the hijacking of Air France Flight 8969 (1994), to which I have referred in my last post (See Related Articles). It was an act of terror that found a tragic echo in the attacks of 9/11 in the United States. The terrorists’ intention was to blow up the Eiffel Tower in Paris, but France’s anti-terror unit, the Groupe d’Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale (GIGN), killed the terrorists at Marseille.

In 1999, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, a member of the National Liberation Front (FLN), was elected president of Algeria. It could be that Islamic fundamentalism had lost its appeal, but given the wars waged in the Middle East during the 2000s, some fundamentalism  could not be averted.

“In 2006, the GSPC, the Groupe salafiste pour la prédication et le combat,[1] was officially accepted as a branch of al-Qaida in a video message by Ayman al-Zawahiri; soon thereafter, it changed its name to al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).” (See Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Wikipedia.)

Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Algeria’s President, has not been seen since January 2016, which has fuelled rumours that he is extremely ill.


To sum up, after Algeria gained its independence, its leaders identified with socialism. However, groups were progressively drawn into the fundamentalist Islamism that was rooting itself in neighbouring Arab countries of the Middle East. It was called SalafistIslamic revivalism.” Algeria resisted Islamic fundamentalism, but it found supporters.

The driver of the death truck of the 2016 Nice attack, Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, was Tunisian. It has now been determined that the attack was planned over a year and that Mohamed Bouhlel had accomplices. He responded to calls to attack citizens of coalition countries fighting ISIL. Yet, he was not a suspect. (See 2016 Nice attack, Wikipedia.)

The Kouachi brothers (Charlie Hebdo shooting) were of Algerian descent and the two were radicalised in the Middle East. In other words, after France left Algeria, the Arabization of Algerians led to a degree of Islamic fundamentalism and at least two of the three major attacks on France have been perpetrated by descendants of the population of France’s Colonial Empire. ISIL, however, remains at the heart of terrorist attacks on France and European cities. Last week, Munich was attacked. When will it end?

These are terrible days, but I doubt that radical Islamism will abate until it is rejected by Islam itself. Neither Islamic fundamentalism, nor autocratic leadership, Syria’s Bashar al-Assad‘s, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, can benefit the Middle East. Its citizens are walking out. It seems that Assad is ready to talk. (See Malta Today.)

President Obama is still the President of the United States and he is a man of peace, despite the strikes. The talks have to occur soon. Participants should be supplied  with plenty of good food and drinks, sit at a round table, and put an end to this misery. Muslims are not migrating because they want to. They are migrating because they have to. This is self-destruction. Make Syria safe for Syrians, Iraq safe for Iraqis and free Saudi Raif Badawi. It is difficult to imagine why King Salman of Saudi Arabia fears an innocent blogger whose wife and children are living in my town. They are awaiting a beloved husband and father.

Reconciliation should happen soon, because members of the extreme Right could be voted into political office in mostly tolerant countries.

The Arab Spring was a call for greater democracy. It was energetic opposition to Islamic fundamentalism and Islamic radicalism, i.e. ISIL, by Muslims themselves.[2] But Assad was led by his fear of losing power. If he acts as he should, the migrant crisis will end and he may save himself.

Apologies for a long absence due to migraines.
Love to everyone.


Sources and Resources

  • Wikipedia
  • Britannica
  • Films on YouTube
  • The Atlantic Monthly
  • The Economist
  • Touareg de l’Ahaggar, by Christophe Novel (image below video)

[1]  Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat
[2] The Arab Spring began in Tunisia, but Algeria was not a participant.

The Battle of Algiers
music by Ennio Morricone (a very good composer)


Touareg de l’Ahaggar, C. Novel

© Micheline Walker
25 July 2016






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