Thursday

6th Oct 2022

France to punish ex-generals for Islamist 'civil war' letter

  • Paris: Retired and serving French soldiers are meant to stay out of politics (Photo: cedric.chan)

France is preparing to punish ex-generals and acting offers who signed a letter warning of a civil war with Islamists.

"These are unacceptable actions ... There will be consequences, naturally," the French defence minister, Florence Parly, said on France Info radio on Monday (26 April).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"The military are not there to campaign, but to defend France and protect the French," she added.

"For those who have violated the duty of reserve, sanctions are planned, and if there are active soldiers among the signatories, I asked the chief of staff of the armed forces to apply the rules," Parly said.

According to French law, retired officers could lose their ranks and pensions if they violated their duties.

Acting ones could face court martial and between two to five years in prison.

The letter was signed by 24 retired generals, as well as 80 colonels or captains, 125 lieutenant-colonels or lower-ranked officers, and about 1,000 others.

It was published in the right-wing magazine Valeurs Actuelles on 21 April - the 60th anniversary of a failed putsch over Algerian independence.

"The hour is grave, France is in peril," they said.

And "the intervention of our comrades on active duty in a perilous mission of protection of our civilisational values" might soon be needed in a "civil war" that could cost "thousands" of lives, they said.

The letter targeted "Islamism and the hordes of the banlieue" - poor neighbourhoods with large migrant populations - as the enemies of France.

It also seized on recent jihadist attacks in the country, such as the murder of school-teacher Samuel Paty for showing Mohammed cartoons last year, to whip up emotion.

"Who could have imagined 10 years ago that a teacher would one day be beheaded on leaving school?," they wrote.

The lead signatory was Christian Piquemal, a former French Foreign Legion commander, who was arrested in 2016 for taking part in an anti-migrant rally in Calais.

Other French ministers and left-wing politicians also condemned the letter.

And Parly reassured the French public that the old men "in their slippers" who signed it posed no threat, because the "immense majority" of serving French officers had not joined them.

But French far-right leader Marine Le Pen voiced support for the malcontents.

She called on the generals to join her in "the battle of France" ahead of presidential elections next year.

France did suffer from "lawless areas, crime, self-hatred and our leaders' rejection of patriotism", she also said on Tuesday.

"[But] these problems can only be solved by politics," she added, in a word of caution.

The first round of French elections is due to take part in April next year.

French president Emmanuel Macron is currently neck-and-neck with Le Pen, with each scoring between 25 percent and 28 percent in polls earlier this month.

France vows tough retaliation for teacher's murder

Muslim NGOs targeted by the France's retaliatory response to the brutal murder of a schoolteacher claim the government is labelling "innocent Muslims as 'Islamists" just to be able to say that they are doing something".

Opinion

Finally, the victims of Utøya got a memorial

A legal battle between locals on the one hand and the state and the labour youth organisation on the other side postponed the inception of the memorial in remembrance of the victims of Anders Behring Breivik.

Opinion

Why Islamophobia in Europe is getting worse

The European Commission has not taken any initiative to restaff the position of a coordinator on combating anti-Muslim hatred, which has been void since July 2021 and starved of resources and a clear mandate.

MEPs condemn EU Commission 'leniency' on Hungary

MEPs criticised the EU Commission for what they see as the executive not being tough enough on the government of Viktor Orbán, as Hungary's parliament passed new legislation as part of a deal with the EU executive.

Opinion

What von der Leyen's 'State of Union' didn't mention

Ursula von der Leyen barely noticed that European democracy is under attack not only from external threats, but from within. Two of the world's leading autocratic countries are EU member states.

News in Brief

  1. Sweden: Nord Stream probe points to 'gross sabotage'
  2. Orbán rails against Russia sanctions at Prague summit
  3. MEPs urge inquiry into Mahsa Amini killing and Iran sanctions
  4. Thousands of Hungarian students and teachers protest
  5. Swedish MEP cuts hair mid-speech to support Iran women
  6. Danish general election called for 1 November
  7. Slovenia legalises gay marriage, adoption
  8. Russia's stand-in EU ambassador reprimanded on Ukraine

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  2. The European Association for Storage of EnergyRegister for the Energy Storage Global Conference, held in Brussels on 11-13 Oct.
  3. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  4. European Committee of the RegionsThe 20th edition of EURegionsWeek is ready to take off. Save your spot in Brussels.
  5. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”

Latest News

  1. What actually happened at the 'most complicated election in the world'?
  2. Europe lays aside quarrels to isolate Putin
  3. Spyware-hacked MEPs still seeking answers
  4. EU leaders discuss gas price cap — amid rationing fear
  5. Germany braces for criticism of national €200bn energy fund
  6. The fossil-fuel agenda behind EU's carbon-capture plans
  7. Four weeks to COP27 — key issues and challenges
  8. EU wants to see US list on Russia financing of politicians

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us