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Emir Abdelkader: Algeria 1966

Prince Abdelkader Ibn Mohieldin Al-Hassani, known as Abdelkader Al-Jazaery or Emir Abdelkader, is the founder of the modern Algerian state and a symbol of Algerian resistance against the French occupation.

In the summer of 1830, France invoked the “fan coup” affair to attack Algeria. The capital Algiers surrendered to the French army after fierce battles on July 5, 1830.

Some tribes of the west of Algeria started to organize their ranks and muster their forces to confront the invaders. They introduced the emirate to Sheikh Mohieddin al-Hasani, the sheikh of the Qadiriyya Sufi brotherhood and one of the notables of the wilaya of Moascar (Mascara). Sheikh Mohieddin rejected the emirate and agreed to lead the resistance against the French army. The sheikh entrusted the leadership of the forces in some battles to his then twenty-four-year-old son AbdelKader. Abdelkader won a few victories, which earned him the popularity and respect of the people of the region.

الأمير عبد القادر على طابع جزائري 1966 YT431

Emir Abdelkader on an Algerian stamp of 1966 YT431

Sheikh Mohieldin proposed his son Abdelkader for the emirate and pledged his allegiance as Prince of Western Algeria on November 27, 1832 AD.

Prince Abdelkader won several victories over French forces and banned trade and relations with the French. These victories forced France to conclude an agreement with him called the Desmichels Treaty, in 1834. According to this agreement, France recognized the state of Emir Abdelkader in western Algeria, with the exception of the coastal towns: Oran, Mostaganem and Arzew.

الأمير عبد القادر - طابع بقيمة 95 سنتيما 1966
 Emir Abdelkader – Stamp of 95 centimes, 1966

The prince took a town of Moascar (Mascara) as his capital and worked to organize the affairs of his state and began to establish security after a period of chaos in the region. After the arrival of military reinforcements, the French broke the agreement and the prince fought them fiercely. The Algerian resistance inflicted heavy losses on the French army, forcing French General Thomas Robert Bugeaud to conclude a new treaty with Emir Abdelkader, called the Treaty of Tafna, in May 1837, recognizing the authority of the Emir over two thirds of Algeria.

France took advantage of the new treaty to bring more military reinforcements to Algeria, then returned to attack the areas under the control of Emir Abdelkader. In 1941, the French army succeeded in occupying Moascar (Mascara) the capital of the new Algerian state, and in burning it. The French army has followed a scorched earth policy against the tribes that support the Mujahedin. Battles between Emir Abdelkader and the French army continued until 1947.

After fierce resistance, Prince Abdelkader and his companions were forced to surrender to French forces in 1847 on condition that he was allowed to leave for Alexandria or Acre in Palestine. Once again, France has not honored its agreements with the Emir. The Emir, his family and his companions were imprisoned in France.

Following a change of regime in France and multiple internal and external pressures, the Emir and his companions were released in 1852. He then traveled to Turkey and from there to Damascus in 1855.

The prince’s reputation and the stories of his resistance against the French occupation had preceded him to Damascus. He was greeted as a hero and quickly took a place among the scholars and notables of the city. He started teaching in the Umayyad Mosque. During the remaining years of his life, the Emir had a leading participation in the political and scientific life of Damascus.

Prince Abd al-Qadir al-Jazaery died in Damascus on May 24, 1883, at the age of 76, and was buried next to Sheikh Ibn Arabi at al-Salihiya in Damascus, in execution of his will.

His body was transferred to Algeria in 1965 and buried in the Alia cemetery on the Place des Martyrs, in which only high-ranking national figures such as presidents are buried.

In 1966, Algeria issued two postage stamps to commemorate Emir Abdelkader, valued at 30 and 95 centimes, bearing the numbers 431 and 432 in the Yvert & Tellier catalog.

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