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‘Civil war is brewing’: Macron sent another chilling warning from serving soldiers following earlier letter from retired French generals calling for military action against ‘Islamists’
- Open letter by a group of serving French soldiers published late on Sunday
- Soldiers warn Macron that the ‘survival’ of France is at stake after he made ‘concessions’ to Islamism
- It echoes the tone of a similar letter printed last month which warned of civil war
By Rachel Bunyan for Mail Online and AFP, 10 May 2021
A group of serving French soldiers have published a new open letter warning Emmanuel Macron that the ‘survival’ of France is at stake after the President made ‘concessions’ to Islamism.
The letter published in the right-wing magazine Valeurs Actuelles (Today’s Values) late on Sunday echoes the tone of a similar letter printed in the same magazine last month which also warned a civil war was brewing and called for military action against ‘Islamists’.
French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, a close ally of Macron, slammed the letter as a ‘crude maneouvre’ and accused its anonymous signatories of lacking ‘courage’.
The previous letter, signed by 1,000 people including serving officers and some 20 semi-retired generals, warned of the ‘disintegration’ of France because of radical Islamic ‘hordes’ living in the suburbs.
It is not clear how many people are behind the current letter or what their ranks are – and their anonymity is likely to due to the backlash faced by the authors of the previous letter, with 18 officers who signed the letter facing disciplinary action.
In contrast to the previous letter, it is also open to be signed by the public, with Valeurs Actuelles saying more than 93,000 had done so by Monday morning.
‘We are not talking about extending your mandates or conquering others. We are talking about the survival of our country, the survival of your country,’ said the letter, which was addressed to Macron and his cabinet.
The authors described themselves as active-duty soldiers from the younger generation of the military, a so-called ‘generation of fire’ that had seen active service.
‘They have offered up their lives to destroy the Islamism that you have made concessions to on our soil.’
They claimed also to have served in the Sentinelle security operation within France launched after a wave of jihadist attacks in 2015.
They observed that for some religious communities ‘France means nothing but an object of sarcasm, contempt or even hatred’.
It added: ‘If a civil war breaks out, the military will maintain order on its own soil… civil war is brewing in France and you know it perfectly well.’
The letter comes in a febrile political atmosphere ahead of 2022 elections, when Macron’s main challenger is expected to again be the far-right leader Marine Le Pen.
Analysts say Macron has tacked to the right in recent months to prevent Le Pen from exploiting a series of attacks in late 2020 blamed on Islamist extremists who recently immigrated to France.
‘I believe that when you are in the military you don’t do this kind of thing in hiding,’ Darmanin told BFM television. ‘These people are anonymous. Is this courage? To be anonymous?’
Former president Francois Hollande weighed in on the debate, expressing bewilderment that such sentiments could be expressed by serving soldiers.
‘How can we suggest that the army today could have such feelings and a desire to question the very principles of the Republic?’ he told France Inter radio.
Prime Minister Jean Castex had labelled the rare intervention in politics by military figures in last month’s letter ‘an initiative against all of our republican principles, of honour and the duty of the army’.
France’s armed forces chief of staff, General Francois Lecointre, said those who signed it would face punishments ranging from forced full retirement to disciplinary action for the ‘absolutely revolving letter’.
Lecointre said: ‘These general officers will each pass before a higher military council. At the end of this procedure, it is the President of the Republic who signs a decree expelling them’.
They will lose their pay and privileges as members of the reserve of senior officers, and won’t be able to use their rank.
And Florence Parly, the Defence Minister, said: ‘This is unacceptable. There will be consequences, naturally.
The soldiers behind the letter were all said to be anti-immigration activists with racist views and strong ties to the far-Right Rassemblement National (National Rally).
The lead signatory was Christian Piquemal, 80, who commanded the French Foreign Legion before losing his privileges as a retired officer after being arrested while taking part in an anti-Islam demonstration in 2016.
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