The French government and much of the public has reacted with outrage after another open letter issued by military personnel has warned that France is headed for "civil war" if it doesn't handle its Muslim extremism problem.
The controversy was further stoked when Marine Le Pen - commonly dubbed by mainstream media as France's outspoken "leader of the far-right" - once again showed support for the letter by agreeing on the "danger of a civil war" in an apparent rallying of her base around the message ahead of next April's election where they'll seek to take on President Emmanuel Macron. Clearly a significant bulk of officer and enlisted military members agree with her stark assessment.
Bloomberg noted that "While Le Pen has consistently spoken out about tightening migration and the need to be tougher on Islamism, her recent comments are perhaps the most controversial to date."
The Macron government condemned the second letter issued Sunday as "crude" - which unlike the first letter written by 20 retired generals and which included signatories by some 1,000 currently serving soldiers - had anonymous authorship:
The letter, posted on the website of the rightwing Valeurs Actuelles magazine late Sunday, echoes the one published by the same publication last month but appears to have been written by an unknown number of younger troops still in active service.
Far-right leader Marine Le Pen said France was in danger of a civil war as it prepared to tackle President Emmanuel Macron in next April’s election.
At least 200,000 people had signed the letter by the time Le Pen commented on it. In particular Le Pen while at a campaign event on Monday had promoted the new letter as a "clear" assessment of the country's inability to combat the growing tide of Islamism.
"There is always the danger of civil war," she had said, which her opponents were quick to dimiss, and are calling out the statements as far-fetched and outrageous.
Among more controversial highlights of the letter include the line: "If a civil war breaks out, the military will maintain order on its soil because it will be asked to do so," it said while addressing Macron, according to Bloomberg. It said the active duty signatories have long been "fighting Islamism, to which you are making concessions on our soil."
Read a translation of the full letter below...
Active duty French soldiers wrote a second letter warning their leaders about civil war in France. You can find my translation and analysis here. https://t.co/5Qhg4Q7clt— Alister Riviere (@RiviereAlister) May 10, 2021
"If nothing is undertaken, laxity will continue to spread inexorably in society, causing, in the end, an explosion and the intervention of our comrades in action in a perilous mission of protecting our civilisational values and safeguarding our compatriots in the national territory," the letter said.
"There is no more time for procrastination, otherwise tomorrow the civil war will put an end to this growing chaos, and the dead, for which you will bear responsibility, will number in the thousands."
It also calls out French leaders' "hatred" of the country's own history (a reference to the ongoing debate over French colonialism) while at the same time making accommodating statements on Islamic extremism.
And all of this comes after the shocking street beheading of 47-year old teacher Samuel Paty, who Muslim students and parents had accused of showing derogatory cartoons of Islam's founder Muhammad to his students. France and other European countries have since been rocked by similar Islamist shootings and attacks, including against Jewish neighborhoods.