PARIS — The French prime minister and the chief of staff of the army have condemned an anonymous letter signed by people claiming to be active-duty troops warning about impending “civil war” in France.
Prime Minister Jean Castex told Le Parisien newspaper that the letter was a “political maneuver” by the “extreme right.” Gen. François Lecointre, the army chief of staff, said that the signatories should quit the armed forces if they wanted to freely express their political opinions.
It is unclear how many soldiers are behind the letter, the second such message from active-duty or retired military personnel to appear in the past month. The managing editor of Valeurs Actuelles, the right-wing magazine that published both letters, said the latest was from “active military personnel” and that a bailiff would certify their signatures.
When that might happen was unclear.
The anonymous letter, addressed to President Emmanuel Macron, said: “We see violence in our towns and villages. We see communitarianism taking hold in the public space, in public debate. We see hatred of France and its history becoming the norm.”
previous one, signed by some 1,500 mostly retired identified military personnel, including dozens of generals, which described France as being in a state of disarray and warned of a possible coup in thinly veiled terms.
The second letter, which is open for readers to sign, had garnered some 250,000 signatures of support as of Tuesday evening.
The new letter is an unusual escalation in the political involvement of military personnel, with active-duty soldiers now backing retired officers. It has fanned the flames of an already heated debate on security in France, where a series of Islamist terrorist attacks over the past seven months, as well as other violence against the police, have spread unease.
moving right, has recently toughened his stance on security, and against what he calls “Islamist separatism,” in an attempt to blunt the appeal of the far-right leader Marine Le Pen. She expressed strong support for the first letter from the military, and urged the retired officers to join her campaign.