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Muslim Ethnic and Religious Cleansings /
North African Christian and Jewish Cleansings

Exodus of Christians and Jews, Algeria, 1962

Beginning in the 1950's, reaching its climax in the early 1960's, a series of actions and campaigns, leading to the cleansing of Christians and Jews in North Africa.
The background for the cleansings, was the establishment of Muslim national states and reaction to the establishment of the Jewish state of Israel.
Most of the actions and campaigns were initiated by Muslim and nationalist movements in the new or emerging states. The incentive to drive Christians and Jews out could be one or several of many: Historical hostility between groups of differing cultures; anger over long time discrimination from Christians of European background; racism; nationalism; religious chauvinism.
Although it is clear that French and Italian presence in North Africa had involved discrimination of the indigenous population, many locals had benefited from the introduction of modern administration.
The cleansing of the Jews was more complicated matter; Judaism with as long or longer history in the region than Islam. The Jews had in many regions of North Africa traditionally been discriminated by Muslim rulers, while in some cases, Jews and Muslims co-existed in harmony. With the arrival of European control over North Africa, many Jews sought refuge and alliance with the new lords. As the tide turned, and the new Muslim nationalist states emerged, many Muslims reacted towards the Jews as if they were traitors, making it impossible for them to stay in their homelands.
Christians of North Africa had a much shorter history, and had in many cases formed parallel societies, with minimal of contact with locals. Still, the Christians that were driven out of North Africa were born in this part of the world.

1970: The new leader of Libya, Mu'ammar Gadhafi, forces most members of the native Italian and Jewish communities to leave Libya.

By Tore Kjeilen