France threatens to punish soldiers over anti-Islam letter
The French government cautions soldiers against partaking in any political agenda and to remain neutral while on active duty
The French government has warned active soldiers who signed an open letter signed by more than a dozen former generals warning President Emmanuel Macron that the country is on the verge of “civil war.”
Several serving soldiers are thought to have signed a letter published last week in the right-wing Valeurs Actuelles magazine, warning that “laxist” policies would lead to anarchy, necessitating “the involvement of our comrades on active duty in a dangerous mission of defense of our civilisational principles.”
The generals said that “Islamism and the suburban masses” had turned parts of France into no-go zones where French traditions were no longer respected.
The letter, which was written on the 60th anniversary of a failed coup d’etat by generals opposed to France granting Algeria independence, was roundly condemned by the government and left-wing parties.
Apart from the former generals, it was not entirely clear from the list how many of the signatories had retired from the defence forces and how many were still active members.
On Monday, Defence Minister Florence Parly cautioned that those currently serving would face consequences if they disobeyed a statute forcing them to stay politically neutral.
The letter comes as candidates jockey for position on core topics like immigration and defense ahead of the 2022 presidential election.
Macron has described Islam as a “religion in crisis” that is at odds with the secular values of the French Republic, fostering further anti-Muslim sentiment in the country.
Meanwhile, far-right leader Marine Le Pen, whom polls show likely to face off against Macron next year in a rerun of the 2017 race, told the retired generals she shared their sentiments and invited them to back her campaign.
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