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Jul 14, 2019: France celebrates Bastille Day on ominously symbolic anniversary

FRANCE - President Emmanuel Macron takes the salute at the Bastille Day military parade on the Champs-Elysees in Paris, the epicenter of violent protests against his government by the Yellow Vests. French history makes the 2019 parade a target of rich symbolic value for the protesters, some of whom regard themselves as latter-day revolutionaries, potentially reversing recent dwindling support for the movement.

Barring major disruption of the parade by the Yellow Vests, Alphajet aircraft from the French elite acrobatic flying team, Patrouille de France, will fly over the city, and marchers and weaponry will stream down the Champs Elysées to Place de la Concorde. In Paris and elsewhere throughout the country, French citizens will celebrate with parades, fireworks and parties.

The date marks the 230th anniversary of the storming of the Bastille, the prison on the east side of Paris that was a symbol of a hated monarchy, by an angry and aggressive mob. The event became one of the defining moments in the French Revolution.

France has experienced weeks of massive protests by demonstrators wearing the fluorescent yellow vests motorists are required to carry in their cars. They erupted across the country on Nov 17, 2018, over planned hikes in fuel taxes. The focus metamorphosed into seemingly unquenchable fury at the Emmanuel Macron government and the president himself. Reporting on a December protest, Quartz noted that one image “looked a whole lot like a revolution.” Protesters marching along the Champs-Elysées on Dec 1 could be heard chanting slogans like “We are running the revolution” and “Macron to the Bastille,” according to the magazine.

France24 and other sources reported in June that the intensity is ebbing, and that fewer protesters are turning up to participate.

The events of Jul 14, 2019, whether centered on the Champs-Elysees or elsewhere, will reflect whether Macron is defusing the anger.

#23116 Published: 05/24/2019

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