French soldiers claim ‘civil war is brewing’ due to Emmanuel Macron's handling of Islamism

Letter tells government that France’s survival is at stake

TOPSHOT - French President President Emmanuel Macron gestures during a press conference at the Europe Day ceremony and the Future of Europe conference at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France, on May 9, 2021. / AFP / Frederick FLORIN
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French soldiers told President Emmanuel Macron that France’s “survival” is at stake in a letter accusing him of having made concessions to Islamism.

The serving soldiers claimed that, for some religious communities, "France means nothing but an object of sarcasm, contempt or even hatred."

The authors of the letter, published on Sunday in the magazine Valeurs Actuelles, said they represented the younger generation of the military. But it was unclear how many of them there are, or their ranks.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin described the letter as a "crude manoeuvre" and said its signatories lacked courage.

"I believe that when you are in the military you don't do this kind of thing in hiding," Mr Darmanin told television channel BFM. "These people are anonymous. Is this courage? To be anonymous?"

The letter follows a similar one published in Valeurs Actuelles last month by about 80 officers and 20 semi-retired generals which angered the government and the head of France's military.

"We are not talking about extending your mandates or conquering others. We are talking about the survival of our country, the survival of your country," said the letter to Mr Macron and his cabinet.

The authors said they had been part of the operations in France that were launched following a series of terrorist attacks in 2015.

"They have offered up their skin to destroy the Islamism that you have made concessions to on our soil,” stated the letter, which unlike its predecessor is open to the public.

They cautioned that “if a civil war breaks out, the military will maintain order on its own soil … civil war is brewing in France and you know it perfectly well”.

The previous letter – also sent to Mr Macron and his cabinet – was condemned as interference, with France's military chief of staff Gen Francois Lecointre warning that those who signed it would face disciplinary action.

“The hour is grave, France is in peril,” the letter said.

They wrote that France was “disintegrating with the Islamists of the hordes of the suburbs who are detaching large parts of the nation and turning them into territory subject to dogmas contrary to our constitution”.

Mr Macron’s government recently launched an “anti-separatism” bill, which seeks to clamp down on extremism and values deemed at odds with France’s constitution.

While it has been blasted by some as unfairly targeting Muslims, others argue it has not gone far enough.

France's upper house has added a number of amendments to the bill, including banning the hijab for under-18s in public.