PARIS - Anti-racism groups are leading a “de-colonial tour” of Paris on Sunday to call attention to monuments and streets honoring historical figures tied to the slave trade or colonial-era abuses.
The march, starting at the French capital’s Museum of Immigration, is being held on the 58th anniversary of Algeria’s independence from France after a long and brutal war.
It’s organized by a group representing low-income neighborhoods in French suburbs that are home to large communities who trace their origins to former colonies. Black activists and migrants’ rights groups are also joining.
While statues have fallen across the U.S. and in some other European countries amid the global anti-racism movement following George Floyd’s death by police on May 25, the response to such monuments in France so far has been more muted.
Scattered statues have been covered with graffiti, but French President Emmanuel Macron has insisted that authorities will not remove any controversial monuments, as has happened in other countries.
In a call on social networks, the organizers of Sunday’s march accused the government of “ignoring the memory of the peoples it reduced to slavery or colonized by mass slaughter.” They want France to rename streets and monuments for people who fought against slave trading and colonial crimes.
Algeria was considered the jewel in France’s colonial empire, and is marking its independence day Sunday with a special funeral ceremony for 24 resistance fighters decapitated by French forces in the 19th century.
The fighters’ skulls were brought back to France as trophies and held in a Paris museum for decades until their return to Algiers on Friday.