Paris’ Bastille Day Parade was attended by troops from three African countries that helped in the French-led war against Islamist extremists in Mali.
The troops marched with the French military during the nation’s largest Bastille Day parade, honoring their role in the conflict. UN troops wearing blue berets also joined in the festivities.
Bastille Day marks the storming of the Bastille prison on July 14, 1789 by angry crowds. The act helped start the French Revolution. The parade traveled down the Champs-Elysees
The addition of Malian troops to the Bastille Day parade appeared to be a display of triumph, though the military intervention has actually had mixed results.
The mission was launched by President Francois Hollande in January and helped the Malian government reclaim most of the country from al Qaeda-linked extremists who seized the northern area and threatened to take over the capital.
After the Bastille Day parade, President Hollande commented of the military intervention, “It’s a victory that was won. Look at what happened. It was a victory for Africa, a victory against terrorism, and pride that we must have.”
He added that the addition of the troops who helped in Mali was a “tribute to those who actively helped banish terrorism from the Malian territory.”
but despite the Bastille Day parade display, some critics have claimed that the Mali operation and African presence in the parade are indicative of French patronization of its former African colonies, such as Mali. Those critics included French NGO Survie and Africans like Senegalese rapper Keyti, who commented:
“Knowing the history of France, especially French armies with Africa, it doesn’t sound good. This last decade we’ve been trying to be really independent from the French army… And now with what happened in Mali, what’s still happening here, it’s like they found another way to come in.”
In all, 4,800 troops marched in front of the presidential stage to celebrate Bastille Day.