Constant Méheut, New York Times, May 12, 2021
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.
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.”
The word “communitarianism” is frequently used in France to describe resistance to the supposedly universalist and colorblind French model of society, in which identity politics is anathema.
The letter continued: “A civil war is brewing in France and you know it perfectly well.” If an “insurrection” breaks out, it said, “the military will maintain order on its own soil.”
The anonymous letter came in support of a 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 anonymous signatories of the second letter, who described themselves as active-duty soldiers from a younger generation, said the impending civil war would be fueled by Islamism and identity politics in the banlieues — the poor and marginalized neighborhoods where many immigrant families live.
In open defiance of civilian control over the military, the letter criticized the government’s “cowardice” in dealing with the alleged threats.
The signatories said that many of them had served in the various antiterrorism operations that France has started abroad in recent years, including the seven-year anti-Islamist operation in the Sahel, a vast region of sub-Saharan Africa, which has had mixed results.
“They have offered up their lives to destroy the Islamism that you have made concessions to on our soil,” the letter read.
A significant proportion of the military in France has long supported the far right in elections. Nearly half of the police and military would vote for Ms. Le Pen in the first round of the 2022 presidential election, according to a survey revealed by the newspaper L’Opinion on Tuesday.