Because of the immediacy and urgency of the Algerian crisis and the repressive movement it has called forth we are advancing publication of the exclusive interview given to DISSENT by Messali Hadj, Algerian nationalist leader. This was to have appeared in the Summer issue of DISSENT which will be devoted in large part to the African continent.
IN HOUSE ARREST *
I) How do you view the conflict in Algeria?
I regard the conflict in Algeria as an event which increasingly involves every social layer of the Algerian people and sets into motion the most hesitant, even those who formerly sided with the colonial administration. After sixteen months of armed struggle it may be stated that the development of the situation has equally enlisted the sympathy and understanding of an important section of French democracy. This new phase has clarified Algerian realities.
II) What is your position today? Reconciliation with the French or total independence?
Our position has not changed. We are for complete independence. That is why we struggle to give a voice to the Algerian people so that they may, through a sovereign Algerian Constituent Assembly elected by universal suffrage, without discrimination as to race or religion, choose their own political future and select their true representatives.
Algerian independence does not mean that our country is going to live in total isolation and have no dealings with the French people. However, our future relations with France depend much more upon the French and their government than upon us, for, to the extent that they grant satisfaction to our people’s national aspirations our relations can only be bettered.
Once independent, our country will be in need of aid on the economic, financial and technical levels. We are fully aware of this situation and we would like this to be understood at the very moment we are fighting for national liberation so that we might establish good neighborly relations of mutual help and understanding.
*Now exiled by the French governmment to Belle en Mer, an island off the coast of Brittany where he is held in complete isolation from the world.