Crémieux Decree

The decree

The Crémieux Decree was a law that gave French citizenship to about 35,000 Jews in French Algeria, signed by the Government of National Defense on 24 October 1870 during the Franco-Prussian War. It was named for French-Jewish lawyer and Minister of Justice Adolphe Crémieux, who had founded the Alliance Israélite Universelle a decade earlier.

It was signed as Decree 136 of 1870[1] by Adolphe Crémieux as Minister of Justice, Léon Gambetta as Minister of the Interior, Alexandre Glais-Bizoin and Martin Fourichon as a naval and colonial minister. The ministers were members of the military government in Tours, the Gouvernement de la Défense nationale, since France was still at war, and the provisional government had its seat in Tours.

At the same time the naturalization regime in French Algeria was confirmed in Decree 137, determining that Muslims are not French citizens in the French colony of Algeria. The aim was to maintain the status quo, the sovereignty of France over its North African colonies. Five years later, in 1875, this was confirmed in the framework of the Code de l'indigénat.

The decree allowed for native Jews to automatically become French citizens while Muslim Arabs and Berbers were excluded and remained under the second-class indigenous status outlined in the Code de l'Indigénat. They could, on paper, request French citizenship, but requests were very seldom accepted. That set the scene for deteriorating relations between the Muslim and Jewish communities and proved fateful in the Algerian War of Independence, after which the vast majority of the French Jews of Algeria emigrated to France.

Decrees 136 and 137 were published in Official Gazette of the City Tours (Bulletin officielle de la ville de Tours) on 7 November 1870.

From 1940 to 1943, the Crémieux Decree was abolished under the Vichy regime.

Text of the decree

French Republic No. 136. - Declaring the indigenous Jews of Algeria French citizens. 24 October 1870.

The Government of National Defense Decrees:

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 Sénatus-consulte, decree, regulation or ordinance to the contrary is abolished.

Done at Tours, 24 October 1870

Signed Ad. Cremieux, L. Gambetta, AL. Glais-Bizoin, L. Fourichon


  1. (décret no 136 du 24 octobre 1870)

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