The French government is ramping up measures against migrants and Muslims—just as far right forces threaten a coup.
A new bill, presented in a cabinet meeting this week, will see even more crackdowns and greater police powers. It will enable far greater monitoring of phones, web addresses and instant messaging.
All of this is supposedly justified by the need to “fight terror”.
The new proposals come in the wake of the “anti-separatist” law which is going through its final legislative stages.
Among its assaults on Muslims is a ban on women under 18 wearing the hijab in public.
The government has also, despite huge protests, passed its “global security” law. It enables, among other measures, prosecution of people who photograph and film police brutality.
This comes after outrage at police assaults on anti-racist and Yellow Vest campaigners.
The increased repression encourages even more right wing forces.
A letter from 23 retired generals last week demanded decisive action against “suburban hordes”. If nothing is done, it warned, there will be an “intervention of our active-service comrades in the perilous protection of our civilisation’s values”.
In such a scenario, the letter said, the dead “will be counted in the thousands.”
It was published on the 60th anniversary of a failed coup by generals opposed to France granting independence to Algeria.
And it was addressed to president Emmanuel Macron and published in the far right magazine Valeurs Actuelles.
One enemy, the generals said, was “Islamism”. Another was anti-racism. They wrote, “Today, some speak of racialism, indigenous nationalism and decolonial theories, but through these terms it is the race war that these hateful and fanatical supporters want.”
The letter has subsequently been signed by more than 1,000 retired military personnel, according to the magazine. It was hugely boosted by fascist Marine Le Pen, who is leading some polls for the 2022 presidential election.
Le Pen appealed to the generals “to join our movement and take part in the battle that is beginning”.
She applauded the generals’ analysis, calling on all who thought like this to “rise up for the recovery and—let’s say it—the salvation of our country”.
Minister of the armed forces Florence Parly criticised Le Pen—but only for allegedly weakening the military.
“Madame Le Pen’s words reflect a serious misunderstanding of the military institution, which is worrying for someone who wants to become head of the armed forces,” Parly wrote.
“The politicisation of the armed forces suggested by Madame Le Pen would weaken our military and therefore France.”
France remains deep in a coronavirus crisis with hundreds still dying every day.
This is one of the factors fuelling a crisis at the top of society as none of the politicians seem to have an answer to the problems in society.
In this atmosphere the government lashes out and encourages the rank forces of the far right.