Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Algerian Parliament Adopts New Nationality Law Detrimental to Jews

March 14, 1963
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Algerian Parliament adopted last night a new nationality law which was described by legal experts here as “discriminatory against non-Moslem residents” of Algeria, who include some 15,000 Jews.

The experts also asserted that the new law was “contrary to the spirit and letter of the Franco-Algerian Evian agreement” by which Algeria won independence from France after many years as a French colony.

During the long and stormy debate in the Algerian National Assembly which preceded the vote, a number of Arab deputies openly called for a “Moslem Algeria” and others demanded the departure of the remaining 170,000 Europeans in Algeria. The new law automatically classifies the 15,000 Jews with the European community.

Other deputies called the new law, adopted by 85 to 33 votes, “shamefully xenophobic.” It was proposed by Premier Ahmed Ben Bella’s Government and it stipulated that henceforth two categories of Algerian citizens would exist, those who before independence were ruled by Moslem civil courts and those who would have Algerian nationality “by acquisition.”


The Evian Agreement, which the new law violates, clearly stipulated that all Europeans born in Algeria and who resided there a number of years would automatically acquire Algerian nationality if they so wished. The new law also provides that certain Europeans can be deprived of their Algerian nationality if they already have it.

Since the 15,000 Algerian Jews are automatically listed with the European community under the new law, they will have to acquire Algerian nationality under that law.

Sixteen European deputies took part in the vote last night. Fifteen of them, including former members of the FLN, the pre-independence Algerian national movement, voted against the law. Most of the FLN leaders who took part in the Evian negotiations–including Krim Bel Kacom, who lost out to Ben Bella in the struggle for the Premiership–voted against it. They said they did so to protest against “this acute violation of the Evian agreement.”

It was generally believed that one reason for passage was the desire of the Ben Bella Government to prevent the return to Algeria of former European residents. Most observers also indicated a belief that the passing of the law marks another stepping-stone to Algerians becoming a “Moslem Arab state” as envisaged by Ben Bella.

Recommended from JTA