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HomeContentsOnline exhibitions > The Second Empire through the Lens of A.A.E. Disdéri

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André Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri 
Abd-el Kader 
Carte de visite 
Paul Frecker 
Abd-el Kader was the principal leader of Algerian resistance to French invasion and occupation. Of Rif origins, he spent his youth in Koranic study under the influence of a pious father, and made the pilgrimage to Mecca in 1828/9. Taking over military leadership from his father after the loss of Algiers (1830), he was proclaimed sultan by the Hashim of his native district of Mascara and then recognized as Amir al-Muminin (Commander of the Faithful) also by the French, who were still restricted to Algiers and the other ports they had seized.
The young amir settled on the site of the ancient Ibadi city of Tahert, in central Algeria, and, after renewed fighting, was again able to secure a treaty with the French which kept wide areas under his control. As French intrusions continued, there were fresh outbreaks of resistance in areas now enclosed by France. These reached a climax in 1846. Only a major military effort by the French at last enabled them to shatter the amir's forces. He himself tried to find refuge in Morocco, but failing to find it, surrendered to the French in 1847. They interred him for five years in France, before they eventually honoured the terms of his surrender and allowed him to reside freely in the Middle East.
He settled first in Brusa, Turkey, and then, in 1855, took up permanent residence in Damascus. Reconciled with his old enemies, in 1860 he saved the local French consul and several thousand Christians from being massacred, for which the French gave him a medal inscribed Amir of North Africa, Defender of Arab Nationality, Protector of Oppressed Christians. 
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