French military members are under fire from the government after issuing a warning: the country, they say, is heading towards a “racial” and “civil war” as a result of the advance of “Islamism” and “leftist ideologies.”
In an open letter, roughly 1,000 French servicemen–including 25 retired generals–claimed that divisions in French communities are growing too strong.
“The hour is grave, France is in peril,” they wrote, claiming that France is being threatened by several deadly dangers, including “Islamism” and the “banlieue hordes”. The term “banlieue hordes” refers to French ghettos mostly inhabited by immigrants where there are still regular problems with race issues.
The letter warns of an attempt to start a “racial war” by tearing down statues of French colonial figures and attacking French history. The generals blame “fanatic partisans” and “a certain anti-racism” for increasing and stimulating racial divides in the country. The letter also criticizes the crackdown against the Yellow Vest protests that opposed French President Emmanuel Macron’s policies.
“It is no longer the time to procrastinate, otherwise tomorrow civil war will put an end to this growing chaos and deaths – for which you will be responsible – with numbers in the thousands,” the letter concludes while urging the French government to do something about the growing divisions in the country.
The letter received a forceful response from the French government, which warned that any active serviceman that signed the letter would be punished. Reactions from the political mainstream were mostly negative–and many accused the generals of calling for an overthrow of the elected government.
Marine Le Pen, head of the National Rally party, welcomed the letter and asked the generals to join her in “the battle of France”.
The lead signatory of the letter is Christian Piquemal, a former commander who was arrested in 2016 for taking part in an anti-migrant protest.
The French Defense Minister, Florence Parly, meanwhile called for sanctions against the servicemen that signed the letter, as active military members are not allowed to actively take part in politics. Parly said in an interview on France Info radio on Monday that, “These are unacceptable actions… There will be consequences, naturally.”
According to French law, retired officers could lose their ranks and pensions if they violated their duties. Active officers could face court martial and between two to five years in prison.
The letter was published in a right-wing magazine “Valeurs Actuelles” on 21 April 2021, the 60th anniversary of an attempt at a coup d’état against French President Charles De Gaulle. The coup was aptly named the “Generals’ Putsch”.