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France bans fireworks sales ahead of Bastille Day as country reels from anti-police riots

The French government has banned firework sales ahead of Bastille Day celebrations as the country still reels from widespread anti-police riots. 

“In order to prevent the risk of serious disturbances to public order during the July 14 festivities, the sale, carrying, transport and use of pyrotechnic articles and fireworks are prohibited until July 15 inclusively throughout the national territory,” a government decree published Sunday in the Official Journal of the French Republic read. 

The decree does not apply to professionals with the required approvals and authorizations or public authorities set to put on firework shows celebrating Bastille Day. 

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French police in riot gear march near Arc de Triomphe

Police officers patrol in front of the Arc de Triomphe on the Champs Elysees in Paris, Saturday, July 1, 2023. President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday scrapped an official trip to Germany after a fourth straight night of rioting and looting.  (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

On Saturday, The Wall Street Journal, in a piece recounting “The Checkered History of France’s Bastille Day Parade,” noted how in recent days the tanks that rumbled along the Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris – past viewing stands erected in advance of France’s national holiday – were not there to rehearse for the traditional July 14 military parade from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde but instead sent to quell “riots involving thousands of young people, mostly of North African descent” in the wake of Merzouk’s death. 

“In the press and even on the TV news, it was mainly Paris and its suburbs, Lyon and Marseille that were talked about. But when you look, there were also incidents in a certain number of small communities,” said Philippe Van-Hoorne, the mayor of L’Aigle in Normandy, where fires were lit, cars torched, and police chased around after small groups of suspects. “Unfortunately, the increase of uncivil behavior, of violence, is developing even in modest towns like ours … It’s very hard to solve.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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