The French government will confirm the creation of a new civilian National Guard to help protect citizens and the nation from Islamist terror attacks.
Authorities are urging all able-bodied patriots to step up with the aim of boosting the current 28,000 reservists by 12,000.
According to the interior ministry, around 2,500 have already answered the call, including Marion Le Pen, the Catholic niece of the right-wing Front National party leader, Marine Le Pen.
She tweeted on Tuesday: “In the West as in the East, Christians must stand up to resist Islam!” Adding: “Faced with the threat that weighs on France, I decided to join the military reserve. I invite all the young patriots to do the same.”
French President François Hollande said a parliamentary consultation on the formation of the force would take place in September “so that this force can be created as fast as possible to protect the French”, AFP reports.
The move comes after a year and a half of relentless Islamist terror attacks in France, beginning with the Charlie Hebdo shooting in January 2015. French police have frequently found themselves overrun and hundreds of thousands of troops have been deployed to the streets.
This Tuesday, a priest was slaughtered as he gave mass in Normandy, just two weeks after the horrendous truck attack in Nice that left 84 dead.
The aim of the project is not only practical but symbolic, with the hope it will revive a feeling of national pride and patriotism among young people in the fight against terrorism and political Islam.
The new force is not to be confused with the National Gendarmerie force (pictured) – one of two national police forces in France, which is attached to the French Armed Forces and is placed under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of the Interior.
The last French National Guard, or “militia”, was disbanded in 1872. Britain’s similar Civil Defence Corps was stood down in 1968.
In the Unites States, the National Guard still helps with civilian policing and is used as a reserve military force, with the majority of participants having normal civilian jobs.
The first French National Guard was founded in Paris in 1789 in a period marred by wars with Russia and revolutionary upheaval.
Units were formed from soldiers formerly in the French Guards, the majority of whom had defected to the revolutionary cause, and former members of the Royal Watch.