PARIS - Disquiet is growing within France’s military ranks, with the publication of a second open letter — this time by serving soldiers — warning growing Islamism, delinquency and violence threaten the country’s very survival.
This latest open letter by members of France’s armed forces is making headlines — and stirring debate. Like one last month signed by some 20 retired generals, it too warns of civilian insurrection — fueled, it claims, by President Emmanuel Macron’s alleged concessions to fundamentalist Islam.
But this newest missive, published late Sunday by right-wing magazine Valeurs Actuelles, is from an anonymous group of solders currently serving in the army. They describe serving in countries like Afghanistan and Central African Republic—and losing friends in the fight against fundamentalist Islam which they claim Macron is caving into at home.
The group endorses the earlier letter by the generals—and criticizes the president for allegedly disrespected those officers. But it says the military will maintain order in France, should civil war break out.
Macron’s government blasted the generals’ letter as defying Republican principles and the army’s duty. It says its signatories will be punished.
Critics also include far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon. In remarks to French media, he called for an investigation claiming the generals' letter amounted to a call for a coup.
But a recent poll suggests the majority of French support that letter. An online petition backing this latest letter by serving officers quickly got nearly 1,000 signatories within hours. News reports suggest up to 2,000 French soldiers also back the generals' call.
So does the main opposition Far-right National Rally party.
Leading National Rally politician, Thierry Mariani, told French radio Monday the military are loyal to the country. The letters’ authors, he said, were simply voicing today’s reality.
The letters come amid heightened concern about radical Islam here, following a spate of terrorist attacks. Government legislation, aimed to boost the anti-terrorism response and crack down on extremist groups, has drawn criticism from the left for going too far— and the right for not going far enough.