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Algeria dismisses Macron's 'offensive' remarks amid escalating row with France

Algerian Prime Minister Aymen Benabderrahmane

Algeria's prime minister says his "great" nation will not be undermined by French President Emmanuel Macron's "offensive" remarks about its history.

In controversial remarks published in the French daily Le Monde on Saturday, Macron said Algeria had an "official history" which had been "totally re-written." He said that history was "not based on truths" but "on a discourse of hatred toward France." 

"Was there an Algerian nation before French colonization?" Macron asked.

Algerian Prime Minister Aymen Benabderrahmane dismissed those remarks on Monday, saying, "Algeria is greater than all the statements made to undermine its history and roots."

"Algeria is a nation that has shone in history," he noted.

The gas-rich country won its independence from France in 1962 after a bloody military struggle.

The diplomatic row between Algiers and Paris has deepened as Algeria recalled its ambassador from Paris on Saturday in protest to France's decision to sharply reduce the number of visas for citizens of Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia.

France said the decision had been made necessary by the former French colony's failure to do enough to allow illegal migrants in France to be returned.

In response to the decision and Macron's remarks, Algiers banned French military planes from its airspace. 

French military planes regularly use Algerian airspace to reach the Sahelo-Saharan strip in western Africa, where the French troops are deployed purportedly to help a fight against militants. Former Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika had allowed the French military aircraft to use Algeria's airspace.

'Over 5 million Algerians killed under French colonialism'

Algeria's presidential office also condemned Macron's remarks in a statement, saying, "Macron’s remarks are an unacceptable insult to the memory of over 5.63 million martyrs who sacrificed themselves with a valiant resistance against French colonialism [between 1830-1962]."

"No one or anything can forgive the colonial forces and their crimes," it said, adding that the numerous colonial crimes committed by France are a genocide against the Algerian people.

According to the French media, orders were issued to deport 7,731 Algerian migrants between January and July this year but Algerian authorities provided consular documents required for the repatriation of just 31 people.

France has so far refused to officially apologize to Algeria as a state for its colonial crimes.

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