Paris mayor AGREES with military chiefs who warned of radical Islam

Paris mayor says she AGREES with military chiefs who threatened to seize control of the country and warned of the ‘disintegration’ of France – as 18 of the officers are fired

  • Eighteen serving officers who signed letter to Macron are to be fired, it emerged 
  • But despite anger, right-wing politicians like Rachida Dati are backing them
  • Dati said that the concerns of the soldiers reflected a very real terror threat
  • The mayor of the 7th arrondissement said the police were the targets of jihadists

A Paris mayor has backed military chiefs who threatened to seize control of the country to fight radical Islam and prevent the ‘disintegration’ of France.

Eighteen serving officers who signed the open letter to Emmanuel Macron are to be fired, the country’s armed forces chief confirmed today.

But despite widespread condemnation, politicians on the right like Rachida Dati, mayor of the 7th arrondissement, continue to throw their support behind the signatories, who included 20 retired generals.

‘What is written in this letter is a reality,’ Ms Dati told France Info radio today. ‘When you have a country plagued by urban guerrilla warfare, when you have a very regular and very high terrorist threat, when you have increasingly glaring and flagrant inequalities … we cannot say that the country is doing well.’

Rachida Dati, mayor of Paris’ 7th arrondissement, said that the concerns expressed in the letter to Emmanuel Macron were valid. Ms Dati told France Info radio today: ‘When you have a country plagued by urban guerrilla warfare, when you have a very regular and very high terrorist threat, when you have increasingly glaring and flagrant inequalities … we cannot say that the country is doing well’

Christian Piquemal, 80, was the lead signatory of the 20 retired generals who signed the letter. He is pictured at an anti-Islam rally in Calais in 2016.

General Emmanuel De Richoufftz during his visit to the central Ivory Coast area of Sakassou August 29, 2003. Gen. De Richoufftz was also among the 20 generals to sign the letter.

She said that ‘the police have become a target for terrorists.’

A policewoman was stabbed to death last week in Rambouillet southwest of Paris.

Anti-terror officers said the suspect, a Tunisian national, had been watching jihadist propaganda prior to the attack.

Ms Dati continued: ‘I am afraid that the police will break down one day.’

Referencing the military officers’ letter, she added: ‘And if they crack, we go well beyond the disintegration of society.’

It comes as the Chief of France’s Defence Staff General François Lecointre today condemned those who signed the letter, calling it ‘absolutely revolting.’ 

‘I hope that their automatic retirement will be decided,’ Gen. Lecointre told the Parisien newspaper.

‘This is an exceptional procedure, which we are launching immediately at the request of the Minister of the Armed Forces.

‘These general officers will each pass before a higher military council. At the end of this procedure, it is the President of the Republic who signs a decree expelling them’.

The 18 serving officers joined thousands of retired ones who had signed an open letter warning that France was heading for ‘civil war’ because of radical Islam.

It said action was needed to fight the ‘suburban hordes’ – a reference to the predominantly immigrant population of the housing estates which surround French cities – or else there would be ‘thousands of deaths’.

President Macron’s government strongly condemned the letter, which was published on the 60th anniversary of a failed coup d’etat by generals opposed to France granting independence to Algeria, its former North African colony.

Prime Minister Jean Castex said the letter by military figures was ‘against all of our republican principles, of honour and the duty of the army’.

And Florence Parly, the Defence Minister, said: ‘This is unacceptable. There will be consequences, naturally.

Chief of France’s Defence Staff General François Lecointre today condemned those who signed the letter, calling it ‘absolutely revolting’ (Lecointre is pictured standing beside Emmanuel Macron in a car during Bastille Day ceremonies in July last year)

The soldiers behind the letter were all said to be anti-immigration activists with racist views and strong ties to the far-Right Rassemblement National (National Rally).

The lead signatory was Christian Piquemal, 80, who commanded the French Foreign Legion before losing his privileges as a retired officer after being arrested while taking part in an anti-Islam demonstration in 2016.

Marine Le Pen, the Rassemblement National leader, welcomed the letter, which was first published last week in Valeurs Actuelle (Current Values) magazine.

‘I invite you to join us in taking part in the coming battle, which is the battle of France,’ Le Pen wrote in a response to the letter.

Le Pen, who would become head of France’s Armed Forces if she replaces Macron as president next year, was widely criticised by her opponents on both the Left and Right for her words.

France’s current Fifth Republic has been threatened by military coups in the past, notably by far-Right activists who were eventually defeated as they tried to keep Algeria in the early 1960s.

There are some five million Muslims in France – the largest community of its kind in western Europe – and many have backgrounds in former colonies, such as Algeria.

The Rassemblement National used to be called the Front National (National Front), and was founded by Ms Le Pen’s father, the convicted anti-Semite, racist and Islamophobe, Jean-Marie Le Pen. 

The generals calling for a coup d’état: Le Pen candidates, Yellow Vest activists and an 80-year-old who was arrested at anti-Islam rally in Calais

Christian Piquemal, stripped of his privileges by army chiefs

Piquemal, 80, a former general of the Foreign Legion, leads the signatories of the furious letter addressed to Emmanuel Macron.

He was stripped of his privileges as a retired officer after he was arrested at an anti-immigration rally in Calais in 2016.

Also in attendance were members of the anti-Islamic Pegida movement.

Christian Piquemal speaks at a rally in Calais in 2016. The rally was attended by Pegida, an anti-Islamic movement which originated in Germany

Piquemal denied knowledge that Pegida were also going to be there and denied his protest was racist. 

The general was said to have been the de-facto leader of the rally but was later acquitted by a judge, while others were handed fines. 

Piquemal, who retired in 2000, was stripped of his right to wear the uniform and lost his military officer’s ID card. However, his rank was not withdrawn. 

Emmanuel de Richoufftz, ‘general of the suburbs’

A graduate of the prestigious Saint-Cyr military school founded by Napoleon, de Richoufftz served as aide-de-camp to French Prime Minister Pierre Mauroy from 1981 to 1984.

He served in Iraq, Africa and Bosnia.

He is known as the ‘general of the suburbs’ after penning a book titled Another Late War in 1992.

Children celebrate the visit of French General Emmanuel De Richoufftz during his visit to the central Ivory Coast area of Sakassou in August, 2003

The general sought to alert the public to ‘real ghettos on the outskirts of cities’, warning that intervention was needed to integrate disadvantaged young people.

He represented Marine Le Pen’s National Rally party in local elections in Le Grau-du-Roi in 2019.

Last year he ditched Le Pen’s party to join up with Debout la France (‘France Arise’), a right-wing Euro-sceptic party.

Jean-Pierre Fabre-Bernadac, former police chief and Yellow Vest activist

Jean-Pierre Fabre-Bernadac, former police chief

Fabre-Bernadac is the manager of the Place Armes website which is ‘open to all retired, active, and reserve military personnel who love France and realise that France is on the brink.’

In 2018, he participated in Yellow Vest protests against Macron’s government.

In a recent radio appearance, Fabre-Bernadac lamented the ‘omerta’ which hangs around the issue of immigration, claiming that murders and assaults perpetrated by migrants were not given media coverage.

He called it a ‘terrible double standard.’

In another recent media appearance he said: ‘The French do not trust politicians but they trust the army.’ 

Antoine Martinez, former air force general

Martinez was also embroiled in the furore over the Calais rally organised by Piquemal in 2016.

He hosts the Volunteers for France website.

In a video filmed in November last year for the Volunteers for France Youtube channel, Martinez described how the coronavirus crisis masked what he believes is the more pressing matter of Islamic radicalisation. 

He wrote in an accompanying article: ‘There is no point, in fact, to project our soldiers into external theatres to protect us, if our leaders give up, despite the evidence, to name the enemy, and to fight him on our soil.’  

Antoine Martinez, former air force general

Francois Gaubert, Le Pen ally

Francois Gaubert

Gaubert, 77, another graduate of the elite Saint-Cyr officer training college, spent four decades in the Navy on operations abroad, including in Africa, the Indian and Pacific Oceans, in Berlin after the fall of the wall and in Sarajevo, at the end of the war in Bosnia.

He retired in 2002.

He joined Front National in December 2012 and was a candidate in council elections in Montpellier.

He was elected as a councillor in 2015.

Today he is National Rally councillor in Occitanie. 

The 20 generals:

Christian Piquemal, Gilles Barrie, François Gaubert, Emmanuel de Richoufftz, Michel Joslin de Noray, André Coustou, Philippe Desrousseaux de Medrano, Antoine Martinez, Daniel Grosmaire, Robert Jeannerod, Pierre Dominique Aigueperse, Roland Dubois, Dominique Delawarde, Jean Claude Grolier, Norbert de Cacqueray, Roger Prigent, Alfred Lebreton, Guy Durand and Gérard Balastre.

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