PARIS — France celebrates Bastille Day with a spectacular display of fighter jets — and with anti-terror forces marching in the parade in Paris for the first time as the country’s leaders try to show its muscle against extremists abroad and at home.
The national holiday comes after the country was hit by terror attacks in January that killed 20 people, including the three attackers, and after an extremist beheaded his employer last month and caused an explosion that hurt two people.
One spectator, Philippe Bastelisa, 55, who lives in Paris, said “it was really important that (security forces) participated in the parade, considering the situation right now and the drama of the beginning of the year.”
Another, Katy–Pauli Giraud, 58, led a group of spectators from Calais to the festivities, and called it “great” that there was heightened protection against threats on such an important holiday.
“I’m not scared. I feel secure,” she said.
French President Francois Hollande presided over the yearly parade on the Champs–Elysees, meeting and greeting members of the military. Alongside him was his guest of honor, Mexico’s president Enrique Pena Nieto, whose government is smarting following the audacious prison break of a major drug lord.