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Ex-generals trigger backlash as they warn of ‘civil war’ in France

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The French government has threatened to punish active soldiers who signed an open letter from 25 retired generals warning President Emmanuel Macron that the country is heading towards a “civil war”.

A number of serving members of the defense force reportedly signed the letter published last week in the right-wing magazine Valeurs Actuelles, which warned that “lax” policies would lead to chaos requiring “the intervention of our comrades on active duty in a perilous situation. mission of protecting our civilizational values ​​”.

“The hour is bad, France is in peril,” wrote the retired generals, adding that the failure to act against the “suburban hordes” – a reference to the inhabitants of the predominantly immigrant areas that surround the cities French – and other anonymous groups who “despise our country” will lead to a “civil war” and deaths “by the thousands”.

The government and left-wing parties strongly condemned the letter, which was published to mark the 60th anniversary of a failed coup by generals opposed to Algeria’s granting independence to Algeria. France.

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It did not immediately appear on the list how many signatories, with the exception of former generals, had withdrawn from the defense force and how many were still active members.

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Defense Minister Florence Parly warned on Monday that those still in office would be punished for flouting a law requiring them to remain politically neutral.

But she also seemed anxious to avoid giving too much importance to their explosion, ensuring that “the vast majority” of French troops remained neutral and loyal.

Political analyst Jean-Yves Camus also downplayed the letter’s importance, telling UKTN that the signatories were “not heavyweights” in the army.

‘Battle of France’

The letter comes as candidates begin to fight for a post on immigration, security and the spread of radical Islam in the run-up to the 2022 presidential election.

An Ifop poll published Sunday in the Journal du Dimanche showed that security and the fight against terrorism were among the top priorities of voters after a new wave of jihadist attacks, including the beheading in October 2020 of a schoolteacher who showed his students caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.

Far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who polls show she is due to face Emmanuel Macron next year in a 2017 race resumption, told retired generals she shared their feelings and had invited them to support his campaign.

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“I invite you to join us to participate in the coming battle, which is the battle of France,” she wrote in response to the letter published in Valeurs Actuelles.

Le Pen has been widely criticized by his opponents on the left and on the right for his overtures to soldiers behind what the left-wing daily Liberation has called “a call for sedition”.

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On Tuesday, she told France Info that while she shared the diagnosis of soldiers in a country afflicted by “lawless areas, crime, self-hatred and the rejection of patriotism by our leaders,” she agreed that “these problems can only be solved through politics. “

Assassinated professor

The public incursion of the generals, most of whom are close to far-right circles according to France Info, comes amid a heated debate in France over racism and colonialism led by young non-white French activists.

The generals accused them of stoking “hatred between communities” with their rhetoric and support for demolishing statues of French figures from the colonial era.

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Macron, who was elected on a centrist manifesto in 2017 but is seen by critics as going to the right, has criticized what he calls “social science theories imported from the United States,” saying they hurt French unity.

The generals also accused “Islamism and the suburban hordes” of transforming parts of the country into forbidden zones where French values ​​were no longer respected.

“Who would have imagined 10 years ago that a teacher would one day be beheaded when he left school,” they wrote, referring to the murder of Samuel Paty by a radicalized Chechen immigrant, a crime that deeply shocked France.

Although extremely rare, this is not the first time that former high-ranking military officers have criticized the functioning of the country.

A former popular leader of the armed forces who resigned after a row with Macron in 2017, General Pierre de Villiers, has been cited as a potential presidential candidate after he published a book on “repairing France”.

The main signatory of the letter in Valeurs Actuelles, Christian Piquemal, is a former commander of the Foreign Legion who was arrested for participating in an anti-migrant demonstration in 2016.

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