The apparent inability of the French political establishment to deal with the growing problem of Islamic separatism within the country has provoked 20 retired army generals and 1,000 other military figures to call for tougher action. The row follows in the wake of yet another Islamic outrage with the killing of a policewoman on the outskirts of Paris last week.

The generals have gone as far as calling for military rule if President Macron fails to stop what they see as the ‘disintegration’ of France ‘at the hands of Islamists.’

The retired officers didn’t mince their words, saying that France is “disintegrating with the Islamists of the hordes of the banlieue [suburbs] who are detaching large parts of the nation and turning them into territory subject to dogmas contrary to our constitution.”

Ominously, in an open letter published in Valeurs Actuelles, a news magazine, they said that a military coup might be necessary to stop a ‘civil war’ in France.

“There is no time to waffle, or tomorrow civil war will put an end to this growing chaos and the dead, for whom you will bear responsibility, will be counted in the thousands.”

It is certainly true that large parts of the country are outside the mainstream, with a high level of antisocial behaviour and anti-police violence accompanied by what the political left calls deprivation.

Needless to say, the call to arms led by former commander of the Foreign Legion 80 year-old Christian Piquemal has been met by some resistance. However, the counter-attack was led by the relatively low-ranking Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly, who said that “the irresponsible column published in Valeurs Actuelles is only signed by retired soldiers, who no longer have any function in our armies and only represent themselves.”

Unsurprisingly, Marine Le Pen, the standard bearer of the political right and leader of Rassemblement National, welcomed the generals’ letter. She runs against an increasingly unpopular and largely ineffective Emanuel Macron in next year’s presidential election.

FILE PHOTO: Christian Piquemal at a demonstration in Calais in 2016 Reuters