Algeria Recovers Rare 1659 Manuscript From France

On Wednesday, the Algerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs declared that a rare, 17th-century Islamic manuscript, which was confiscated by France during the colonial era, has been recovered. The manuscript, which dates back to 1659, was taken by the French army in 1842 after an assault on Sufi Islamic scholar and resistance leader Emir Abdelkader El Hassani in the Ouarsenis mountains in north-west Algeria.

The ministry stated that the manuscript’s retrieval holds great historical significance and symbolism, although it did not disclose the exact contents of the literature. Algerian President Abdelmajid Tebboune, officials, and Algerians living overseas, who campaigned for the manuscript’s recovery, were thanked in the statement.

The manuscript was being prepared for auction in France at the time of its repatriation. The Algerian authorities stated that the manuscript’s retrieval and repatriation to the country is part of an ongoing effort to recover all looted Algerian heritage in order to preserve and safeguard the national memory.

French authorities are believed to have looted numerous antiques and symbols of Algerian heritage during France’s colonization of Algeria between 1830 and 1962. Algeria continues to seek the return of all heritage items on display in museums across France as part of a diplomatic effort to hold Paris accountable for its colonial legacy.