France: Political chaos as ex-generals talk of revolt; blame Islam, immigrants

Hyderabad: France plunged into political chaos after an open letter by twenty retired generals warned the French President Emmanuel Macron of an impending “civil war” and “disintegration” of France. 

The letter was published in the right wing magazine Valeurs Actuelles, a far-right weekly that has been moving from the fringes toward the mainstream ever since 2019, and has been co-signed by twenty retired generals. A hundred senior officers and more than a thousand soldiers, warned that if more is not done to tackle “Islam”, “immigrants and leftists”, the country would disintegrate. 

The open letter warns of “suburban hordes” overrunning the country and says “France is in danger. Several mortal dangers threaten it. We who, even in retirement, remain soldiers of France, cannot, in the current circumstances, remain indifferent to the fate of our beautiful country.”

According to France 24, the government and left-wing parties strongly condemned the letter published on 21st April, the 60th anniversary of a failed coup d’etat by generals opposed to France granting independence to Algeria. The letter further said that the purpose of those campaigning against racism and reevaluating France’s colonial past is to foster unease and hatred between communities. 

Referring to French minorities, the letter said “they attack military and civilian glories by analysing words that are centuries old.” Before the letter, another interview on the same right wing political platform calling for an insurrection in the country to protect against the ‘wars of races’ and ‘cancel culture’ was published. 

Reacting to the letter by retired army officials, French minister of Armed forces, Florence Partly said that their public comments were an irresponsible politicisation of the army. 

According to TRT world, the statement by the military officers is a pointed effort to grab headlines and force politicians to adopt policies that potentially clamp down on the religious freedoms of Muslims in France, as presidential elections are around the corner in the country. 

The letter said “We are ready to support policies which will take into consideration the safeguard of the nation,” and added that if nothing is done, “laxity will continue to spread inexorably in society, ultimately causing an explosion and the intervention of our active comrades in a perilous mission of protecting our civilisations values and safeguarding of our compatriots on the national territory”. 

Battle for France 

Far right leader Marine Le Pen, responded to the letter and urged the retired military men to join the “battle for France” by joining her party. 

Marine Le Pen, currently ahead in the 2022 presidential polls said “Your initiative, rare in the military institution, testifies to the degree of concern which is yours vis-a-vis the worrying deterioration of the situation of our country. The uncompromising but fair observation that you make as the strength of the terms you use constitute a public challenge that, given your status as a signatory, no one can ignore.”

French President Emmanuel Macron is trailing behind Le Pen in the polls.