Controversy is growing in France over an open letter signed by former and serving members of the military, warning of the threat of civil war.
Around 1,000 servicemen and women, including some 20 retired generals, put their names to the letter.
“The hour is grave, France is in peril,” they wrote last week.
Ministers have strongly condemned the message, which was published by a right-wing magazine on the 60th anniversary of a failed coup d’état.
“Two immutable principles guide the action of members of the military with regard to politics: neutrality and loyalty,” tweeted the minister in charge of the armed forces, Florence Parly.
However far-right leader and candidate in next year’s presidential election, Marine Le Pen, has spoken out in support of the former generals.
What does the letter say?
The letter warns French President Emmanuel Macron, his government and MPs of “several deadly dangers” threatening France, including “Islamism and the hordes of the banlieue” – the impoverished immigrant suburbs that surround French cities.
The signatories go on to blame “a certain anti-racism” for creating divisions between communities, and seeking to create “racial war” by attacking statues and other aspects of French history.
They also accuse the government of seeking to use the police “as proxy agents and scapegoats” in the popular “gilets jaunes”, or yellow vest protests of recent years.
“It is no longer the time to procrastinate, otherwise tomorrow civil war will put an end to this growing chaos and deaths – for which you will be responsible – with numbers in the thousands,” the letter concludes.
Photo: “JYK-Macron_Elysee-Paris-FR-20170706- – 14” by World Bank Photo Collection is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND“JYK-Macron_Elysee-Paris-FR-20170706- – 14” by World Bank Photo Collection is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND