During Algeria’s late-colonial period, Emir ‘Abd al-Qadir became an embattled figure in public memory. This article examines how Algerian and European social actors endeavored to use him as an important source of legitimacy in their struggles over colonial rule. It shows how the legacy of the emir was increasingly subject to competing claims that cast him either as an Algerian national hero or a French one. Public memory thus functioned as a dynamic zone of social negotiation marked by interactions across the colonizer–colonized divide and by frictions among the European and Algerian populations with reverberations into the postcolonial period.