French president says colonial era 'profoundly unjust'

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Monday that France's colonial system was "profoundly unjust," in a step toward ending decades of rancor between France and Algeria, once the crown jewel among French colonies. "Yes, the colonial system was profoundly unjust, contrary to the three founding words of our Republic: liberty, equality, fraternity," Sarkozy said at the start of a three-day state visit to Algeria. It was a bold admission, as France has steadfastly refused to bow to entreaties, notably from Algeria, to apologize for an era marked in some colonies by humiliation and brutality.