In the right-wing journal Valeurs Actuelles, the French Government denounced the open letter as it gained traction after a Tunisian Islamist stabbed a 49-year-old woman in the suburbs of Paris to death.
A number of serving soldiers are thought to have backed the warning, which suggested that “lax” policies would lead to anarchy, necessitating the “intervention of our comrades on active duty in a perilous mission of protection of our civilisation values.”
The letter states, “France is in danger. Several mortal perils threaten her. Even in retirement, we remain soldiers of France and cannot in the present circumstances remain indifferent to the fate of our beautiful country.”
They charged President Emmanuel Macron’s administration with fanning the flames of hate by authorising a violent police crackdown on the so-called yellow vest movement. The generals claimed that France was “disintegrating with the Islamists of the hordes of the banlieue [suburbs] who are detaching large parts of the nation and turning them into territory subject to dogmas contrary to our constitution”.
The generals predicted that if nothing is done to address their fears, a sudden “explosion” will occur, necessitating a military coup to overthrow the government. They said, “There is no time to waffle, or tomorrow civil war will put an end to this growing chaos and the dead, for whom you will bear responsibility, will be counted in the thousands.”
Around 1,000 service members signed the letter, including 20 retired generals. Serving soldiers who backed the message, according to Defence Minister Florence Parly, will be disciplined for breaking a law requiring them to remain politically neutral.
She fumed, “Two immutable principles guide the action of members of the military with regard to politics: neutrality and loyalty.” She added, “For those who have violated the duty of reserve, sanctions are planned, and if there are active soldiers among the signatories, I asked the chief of staff of the armed forces to apply the rules… that is to say, sanctions.”
Parly cited the case of a former general in the French Foreign Legion who was dismissed from the military after participating in a Calais anti-migrant rally. After being arrested at the protest in 2016, Christian Piquemal, 80, whose signature first appeared on the note, lost his rights as a retired officer.
Jean-Pierre Fabre-Bernadac, a former gendarmerie officer and active member of the yellow-vest movement, started the letter. It has also received support from National Rally leader Marine Le Pen, who is mounting a serious challenge to Macron ahead of next year’s presidential elections.
Le Pen said that the generals’ message echoed the sentiments of “patriots” such as General Pierre de Villiers, a former chief of the defence staff who was fired by President Macron in 2017. Responding to the letter, she said, “I invite you to join our action and take part in the battle that is opening and is above all the battle of France. As a citizen and as a woman politician, I share your suffering.”
Parly, the Minister of Defence, slammed the National Rally’s chief, saying, “The words of Ms Le Pen reflect a serious ignorance of the institution of the army, which is worrying for someone who wants to be commander-in-chief.”
Agnes Pannier-Runacher, the Minister of Industry, led the charge by saying, “Sixty years to the day after the putsch by the generals against General de Gaulle the mask is falling. Marine Le Pen is far right and it’s exactly the same story as 60 years ago.”
Le Pen’s father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, the far-right party’s founder, backed the army’s attempts to prevent General de Gaulle from granting Algeria independence.
The new terror attack on a French public servant has only strengthened President Emmanuel Macron’s commitment to rid the world of radical Islamists. France’s battle against Islamism and extreme Islamic radicals has also received widespread praise, although some radical Muslim countries around the world have expressed their displeasure. Despite resistance to his efforts to eradicate Islamism in France, Macron is planning to intensify his crackdown on anti-social elements who are enthralled with a sense of religious superiority.
Islamists dig their own grave with each assault on an innocent French citizen. With each new assault, Emmanuel Macron’s resolve to combat Islamist extremism grows stronger. Macron has set a precedent for others to follow. Threats of civil war ought not to stop him from achieving his objectives.