Ex-generals spark backlash as they warn of ‘civil war’ in France
The French government has threatened to punish active soldiers who signed an open letter by 25 retired generals warning President Emmanuel Macron the country is headed for “civil war”.
A number of serving defence force members are believed to have signed the letter published last week in the right-wing Valeurs Actuelles magazine, which warned that “laxist” policies would result in chaos requiring “the intervention of our comrades on active duty in a perilous mission of protection of our civilizational values”.
“The hour is grave, France is in peril,” the retired generals wrote, adding that failure to act against the “suburban hordes” — a reference to residents of the mainly immigrant areas that ring French cities — and other unnamed groups who “scorn our country” will lead to “civil war” and deaths “in the thousands”.
The government and left-wing parties strongly condemned the letter, which was published on the 60th anniversary of a failed coup d’etat by generals opposed to France granting independence to Algeria.
It was not immediately clear from the list how many of the signatories, apart from the former generals, had retired from the defence forces and how many were still active members.
Defence Minister Florence Parly warned Monday that those still serving would be punished for flouting a law requiring them to remain politically neutral.
But she also appeared anxious to avoid giving too much importance to their outburst, assuring that the “immense majority” of French troops remained neutral and loyal.
Political analyst Jean-Yves Camus also downplayed the significance of the letter, telling AFP the signatories were “no heavyweights” in the army.
‘Battle of France’
The letter comes as candidates begin jockeying for position on immigration, security and the spread of radical Islam in the run-up to the 2022 presidential election.
An Ifop poll published in the Journal du Dimanche newspaper on Sunday showed security and the fight against terrorism among voters’ top priorities after a new wave of jihadist attacks, including the October 2020 beheading of a schoolteacher who showed his pupils cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed…..read more