The country is on the verge of collapse due to Islamism. The ex-military are calling for an army to be deployed in the suburbs. This makes big waves.
In France, as many as 20 former generals and a total of 1,500 military men are threatened in one way or another with a military coup. Your open letter in the right-wing weekly “Valeurs Actuelles” caused a sensation.
In the appeal, retired generals warned of a “collapse” of France, an impending “civil war”, and in the end “our active comrades have entered into a dangerous mission to protect our cultural values.”
A clear extreme right background
The signatories call on President Emmanuel Macron and the government to defend the nation, among other things, “Islamism and the hordes of the suburbs”. The initiator and author is Jean-Pierre Fabre-Bernadac, a former captain in the Army and Gendarmerie.
Here is what New Zealand correspondent Rudolf Palmer said in Paris:
The letter is a provocation from the extreme right corner. One wants to test how far one can go in breaking taboos in the present day with impunity. In at least 60 years – since the coup d’état by generals in Algiers – this was the first time that the French military intervened in politics in this way and blatantly threatened a military coup. The newspaper was not really surprising: it has long been known that the far right enjoys a great deal of sympathy in the armed forces and among police officers.
However, it is also evident that France does indeed have its own problems with the suburb. Gang crime predominates in socially deprived suburbs, and Islamic fundamentalists are vulnerable to abuse. But anyone who talks about “suburban legions”, threatens military operations, and talks about “thousands of dead” are clearly outside the democratic system and the basic human values of the constitutional state.
Faber-Bernadac was head of the DPS Security Service in the former National Front to Jean-Marie Le Pen, and the DPS was notorious for its 1980s violence. Three other leading generals in calling were candidates for the National Front in the elections.
Support from Marine Le Pen
As the government and the left condemn the text, the military gets support from the right: the right-wing populist Marine Le Pen has demonstrated its understanding of the open message. She added that the signatories said that the situation in the country is worrying and that there are areas where the law is absent.
President Macron must ask himself what is driving the generals to speak this way. But Le Pen confirmed on Franceinfo that he had not started sending the letter.
What do Le Pen voters say?
New Zealand correspondent in Paris, Rudolf Palmer, says Le Pen’s support for warrior generals is not surprising. “They are people like comrades with whom their father Jean-Marie founded the National Front in the 1970s.”
Politically, however, Le Pen’s support could backfire. After all, Marine Le Pen has tried extensively over the past few years to make her party socially acceptable and to distance herself from old fascists and neo-Nazis. “If she takes sides with these military men now, it will only hurt her politically,” Palmer said.
Criticism of the open letter comes from the government and from the left: Defense Minister Florence Parly described the text as “irresponsible”. Left-wing politician Jean-Luc Mélenchon sees the letter as a “call for an uprising.”
And he demanded that the militant soldiers who supported the speech be removed from the army. According to the “Valeurs Actuelles”, the signatories of the letter are supported by about “a hundred senior officers and more than a thousand other members of the military”.