Algerian Independence Leader. He was born in the town of Mascara when Algeria was part of the Turkish Empire, and received a comprehensive education. He made the hajj with his father in 1825 and returned to Algeria in 1830, shortly before the French invaded and supplanted the Turks. Abd began guerrilla warfare, and within two years was the leader of the resistance. For 15 years he prevented French control, but the French finally prevailed and Abd surrendered, was detained in France, and received a pension after agreeing not to contest the French in Algeria. In 1855 he moved to Damascus, where he became famous as an advocate of religious tolerance, wrote a well received autobiography, and authored works on topics as varied as the Arabian horse and political philosophy. During an 1860 religious conflict in Damascus 3,000 Christians were killed and Abd intervened to protect thousands more, for which he received the French Legion of Honor and the thanks of western leaders including Abraham Lincoln. In addition, the town of Elkader, Iowa was named for him in recognition of this event. He died in Damascus and was originally buried there. In 1966 he was reinterred in Algiers on the fourth anniversary of Algeria's independence. Abd al-Qadir is venerated as Algeria's national hero, and the green and white standard he displayed while fighting the French was adopted as the country's flag. A prominent mosque and the university in Constantine are named in his honor, as is Abd al-Qadir Square in Algiers.
Bio by: Bill McKern