Oran. Negro Village. Grand Mufti. Co 19, 1985 conference.
(Arrived in Oran, February 1985.)
“The old Moorish city is full of history written in stones, archives, and races. It was alternatively the great stronghold of Moors, Turks, and Spaniards, during centuries of expeditions, invasion, warfare, and piracies. Its physiognomy to-day is a composite: Moorish, Spanish, and European, the foreign population predominating over the native, making the aspect of the city much less picturesque, to say nothing of the value of its primitive race. The result of the infinite crossing is certainly not in this present generations at Nature’s best. The pure Arab or Moorish type is unfortunately obliterated among this mottled mixture from every African latitude with that of other continents.”
“It must be explained here that since the conquest of Algeria by the French, the natives: Arabs, Moors, Kabyles, and the conglomerate mass of all other African tribes, as well as Jews, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, etc., who are native-born residents, are all, necessarily, subject; but citizenship is optional, save to the French-born. Mussulmans form the great majority of the inhabitants, there being almost as many French Moslem subjects in Africa as there are citizens in France, i.e., thirty million. Once the oath of citizenship is taken, they must, of course, abide by French law, the Code Napolean; while the Moslem subjects are governed by the laws of Muhammad, the Code of the Koran, of which they are most tenacious, living and dying by it. While the Code of Napolean is based upon the Roman legislature, the Koran is a faithful exponent of Mosaic Law, added to which are rules and regulations by the Prophet concerning the details of life: civil, religious, public and private. There is, therefore, little need for legislation; and this banishes simplicity and unity, as well as peace, to its world. It is the adjustment and reconciliation of the two codes which renders legislation and magistrature very difficult in all the French colonies, and all other Christian nations whose colonies contain follower of Mohammed. Though Moslems are a conquered race throughout the different great and small French colonies in Africa and the Protectorate of Tunis, their religion is scrupulously respected and even provided for by the French government: for instance, all that relates to worship, to the family, marriage, property, etc., is left entirely in the hands of the Cadi (the Moslem Magistrate or judge). Citizenship gives the right of suffrage to the subject and prohibits polygamy, which under French law, of course, is bigamy, and is punished with severity, while Moslem subjects who are not citizens following the patriarchs are free to have from one to four wives if they like. It is with great satisfaction, we state at once, that this great evil-the legacy of our common ancestors and patriarchs is rapidly disappearing throughout Islam, and especially with progressive culture and civilization.”
“France had long been an ally of the Arabs in North Africa against the Turks and Moors, but in 1830 arose the warlike difference between her and the great Arab Emir, Abd-el-Kader, who sought to make Tlemecen his capital, as it was of its ancient sultans.”