This latest open letter from members of the French armed forces made headlines and sparked debate. Like last month signed by around 20 retired generals, he also warns against a civil insurrection – fueled, according to him, by the alleged concessions of President Emmanuel Macron to fundamentalist Islam.
But this new missive, published Sunday evening by a right-wing magazine Current values, belongs to an anonymous group of soldiers currently serving in the army. They describe having served in countries like Afghanistan and the Central African Republic – and having lost friends in the fight against fundamentalist Islam to which they claim Macron gives way at home.
The group endorses the previous letter from the generals and criticizes the president for disrespecting these officers. But he says the army will maintain order in France if civil war breaks out.
The Macron government criticized the generals’ letter as a challenge to Republican principles and the duty of the military. He says his signatories will be punished.
Critics also include far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon. In remarks to French media, he called for an investigation, saying the generals’ letter amounted to a call for a coup.
But a recent poll suggests that the majority of French people support this letter. An online petition supporting the latest letter by serving officers quickly garnered nearly 1,000 signatories within hours. Reports suggest that up to 2,000 French soldiers also support the generals’ call.
The same goes for the main opposition party of the far-right National Rally.
The main politician of the National Rally, Thierry Mariani, told French radio on Monday that the army was loyal to the country. The writers of the letters, he said, were simply expressing today’s reality.
The letters come amid heightened concern about radical Islam here, following a wave of terrorist attacks. Government legislation, aimed at strengthening the counterterrorism response and cracking down on extremist groups, has drawn criticism from the left for going too far – and from the right for not going far enough.