On October 24, 1870, Algerian Jews were granted French citizenship and full equality by the Décret Crémieux, named for Jewish-French legislator Adolphe Crémieux.
The decree reads:
No. 136. - Declaring the indigenous Jews of Algeria French citizens.
24 0ctober 1870.
The Government of National Defense
The indigenous Jews of the departments of Algeria are declared French citizens; therefore, their actual status and personal status will, after the promulgation of this decree, be settled by French law, any rights acquired to date remaining inviolable.
Any legislative provision, any Senatus-consulte, decree, regulation or ordnance to the contrary is abolished .
Done at Tours, 24 0ctober 1870
Signed Ad. Cremieux, L. Gambetta, AL. Glais-Bizoin, L. Fourichon
The French began their occupation of Algiers in 1830, and upon the establishment of the Second Republic in 1848 Algeria was incorporated into France. Full citizenship was not granted, however, to the natives of Algeria, both Jewish and Muslim.
In 1870, Jewish-French legislator Adolphe Crémieux, who had also served in the 1848 government, pushed forth decree number 136, granting full Citizenship to Algeria’s indigenous Jews.
Throughout his long years of public service Crémieux was noted for his high integrity and for his defense of liberty and equality. As Minister of Justice in the 1840s he was responsible for the abolition of slavery in the French colonies, and for outlawing the death penalty as a punishment for political offenses.
Throughout his 50 year-long high-profile career, Crémieux was openly Jewish and alongside his Republican politics he was active in the Jewish community and supported Jewish causes, such as granting citizenship to Algeria’s Jews.
The granting of full equality caused anger among the European settlers in Algeria, who became increasingly open in their anti-Semitism. In 1898, the year in which virulent anti-Semitic writer and agitator Édouard Adolphe Drumont founded the “Antisemitic League of France”, he was elected to the French the Chamber of Deputies as deputy for the first division of Algiers.
On October 7, 1940, the French Vichy government abolished the Crémieux Decree, instantly revoking the Algerian Jews' French citizenship. Other French anti-Jewish laws followed, outlawing Jews from numerous professions and confiscating their property.
Anti-Semitic hostility by Algeria’s colonial populace was quite evident during the war, and continued after the liberation of Algiers in November 1942, when the Jews’ rights were not returned to them - General Charles de Gaulle only reinstated citizenship for the country's Jews and revoked the anti-Jewish legislation ten months after the liberation.
From its promulgation in 1870, the Décret Crémieux also caused resentment and hostility among the Algerian Muslims. The millennia-old Jewish community Jews became classed with the foreign colonialists, leading to open hostilities during the Algerian struggle for independence and the obliteration of the Jewish community in the country, which fled to France.
On March 27, 1963, the Algerian Nationality Code was passed in the newly independent country, depriving Jews (and other non-Muslims) of their citizenship.