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Mustapha Chérif

Abd el-Kader, Apostle of Reconciliation

Mustapha Chérif is a former Algerian minister (1990-91) and ambassador to Egypt (1994-2001). An Islamic scholar, he is a professor at the University of Algiers and has taught at the Collège de France as a visiting professor. His works include L’Islam. Tolérant ou intolérant? and L’Islam et l’Occident. Rencontre avec Jacques Derrida, both published by Editions Odile Jacob.

Mustapha Chérif shows here how Abd el-Kader’s extraordinary life can be an inspiration for us even today: as a mystic inspired by Sufism, a progressive who upheld an open, reformed Islam, he personified both East and West.
A religious as well as a military leader, he led the struggle against the French colonial forces from 1832 to 1847, in what was a long, bloody war marked by numerous atrocities. After many victories and defeats, after many acts of resistance, negotiations and treaties, Abd el-Kader was finally defeated by the French forces, commanded by Thomas Robert Bugeaud. Yet despite his defeat, Abd el-Kader would later meet with Napoleon III, who even considered naming him viceroy of an Arab kingdom.
As the protector of the persecuted Christian community of Damascus, the standard-bearer of Algerian identity, and the author of numerous mystical works, Abd el-Kader personified the possibility of an alliance between the Maghreb and French culture.

• A freely inspired meditation on an exceptional nineteenth-century figure.
• A plea for reconciliation and mutual esteem.
• The extraordinary life of a military leader, mystic, scholar of Sufism and of Western culture.
• Abd el-Kader’s life story is part of the complex history of Franco-Algerian relations.