Dhe scandal in France over the appeal of senior officers to a determined fight against “Islamism and the hordes in the banlieue” is drawing ever wider circles. Prime Minister Jean Castex has threatened harsh sanctions against those who signed the appeal. According to the initiators, more than 8,000 soldiers, most of them retired, have now signed the appeal against the “breakup of France”. “I condemn this initiative as severely as possible, which contradicts Republican principles and the honor of the army,” said the head of government.
Chief of Staff François Lecointre announced exemplary penalties against 18 signatories who were still in active service. You would have to answer before a military tribunal. Retirees should be excluded from the armed forces. “It is an unacceptable attempt at manipulation,” said the chief of staff indignantly in an interview with the newspaper “Le Parisien”. “I deny everyone the right to political involvement by naming their rank,” said Lecointre.
The former MP and granddaughter of the Front National founder, Marion Maréchal, described the excitement as symptomatic. In an interview with the television broadcaster BFM-TV, she said on Thursday: “I notice that the appeal is causing more unrest among the ministers than the riots in the banlieue that we have been experiencing for several weeks,” said Maréchal. It is not a call for a coup, but a relentless description of the situation.
She pointed out that the later founder of the republic Charles de Gaulle as a captain with his book “Vers l’armée de métier” (literally: “On the way to the professional army”) in 1934 a similarly ruthless analysis of the weakness of the French army at the time compared to Germans submitted. De Gaulle was able to express himself freely at the time, even if he was offended by his ideas.
Debate divides France
The capture of the general by the hopes of the extreme right shows how much the debate divides France. The pollster Jérôme Fourquet pointed out on the radio station France Inter that the ranks of the security forces were particularly sympathetic to the Rassemblement National. But the uncertainty about the ongoing terrorist threat goes across all professional groups and hits “Michel Houellebecq’s France” in the core.
By this, Fourquet understands the France of small and medium-sized towns in which Islamist attacks occurred, whether in the police station of Rambouillet, in the village church in Normandy or in the supermarket in the small town of Trèbes. The appeal is directed against this “brutalization”, which is hardly noticed in the government. The retired generals demand that “honor and a sense of duty” should revive the political class. Should that not happen, their active comrades would have no choice but to “protect our civilizational values and our fellow citizens on national territory in a dangerous mission”.
According to a recent poll of 1,613 respondents conducted by the Harris Interactive polling agency on behalf of LCI television, 58 percent support the generals’ appeal. 84 percent say that violence has increased in France and 73 percent see the country falling apart. Anti-racism often has the opposite of the hoped-for effect, said 74 percent. 86 percent of those questioned stated that lawless spaces had been created in some large cities.