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Pied-Noir



Exodus of Christians and Jews from Algeria around 1962.
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Exodus of Christians and Jews from Algeria around 1962.

Exodus of Christians and Jews, Algeria, 1962.
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Jews and Christians in North Africa
Morocco
Jews 1948 265,000
1967 60,000
1971 35,000
2005 5,000
Christians 1956 450,000
2005 100,000
Algeria
Jews 1948 140,000
2005 0
Christians 1959 1,025,000
2005 4,500
Tunisia
Jews 1948 100,000
2005 2,000
Christians 1956 (100,000)
2005 20,000
Mauritania
Jews 1948 0
2005 0
Christians 1956 N/A
2005 300
Libya
Jews 1948 48,000
2005 0
Christians 1951 (200,000)
2005 100,000

Above figures are unverified. Christians in Tunisia 1956 and Libya 1951 are very uncertain estimates.

Term used for the population of North Africa with European descent, largely belonging to the period from mid-19th century until their effective expulsion around 1962 (see North African Christian and Jewish Cleansings).
This included Christians and Jews; their numbers being highest in Algeria. Loosely to the category of the pied-noirs belonged a Muslim group called harkis. These were people remaining Muslims, but cooperating with the French and adopting many French customs. Still, harkis were never considered fully part of the pied-noir society, by the Christians. Even Jews were not fully counted part of their community.
In the case of the Jews, their origins were centuries old, many dating back to immigration in pre-Islamic times, others being of indigenous origins but converts. Another element were refugees from Spain after the Christian takeover, which had been concluded in the late 15th century (see Andalucia). The exact distribution between Andalucian refugees and pre-15th century Jews is impossible to set; it is often alleged that refugees were highest in number, but the opposite may well be the case.
"Pied-Noir" is from French, meaning "black foot". Its background is uncertain. It may refer to the black boots worn by European immigrants. Another proposed explanation is that it first was used for indigenous Algerians, while at the time, the French called themselves "Algerians". As the indigenous began using "Algerians", the Europeans began using Pied-Noirs for themselves. This explanation appears unlikely, as the time span is too short to allow the transfer of a derogatory name used on other groups to the group themselves claiming a superior position.
Rather, it seems more likely that "dirty feet" (plural) is a better translation, possibly referring to the hard work performed by European immigrants.
Though beginning as rural colonists, the pied-noirs came to establish a number of modern cities in Algeria. In the late 1950's they formed a large part of the urban population, about 50% of Oran, more than 35% of Algiers and 40% of Bone (now Annaba).
According to official figures, the pied-noirs represented 15.2% of the Algerian population in 1926. In 1959, their representation had shrunk to 10.4%, counting 1,025,000.

History
1830: France takes control over pirate ports in Algeria, thereby beginning a campaign to bring the unruly coast of North Africa under European administration.
1830's: Scant European immigration into lands in present-day Algeria. Immigrants largely came from France, Spain, Italy and Malta, and soon came to enjoy special rights in the new country, often at the cost of locals.
1871: Jews of Algeria becomes French citizens, adopting French culture and language.




By Tore Kjeilen