French President Emanuel Macron was slapped Tuesday by a man as he interacted with the public during an official visit to the south-east of France.
The incident was captured on video. Macron can be seen approaching a metal fence, where he and a man wearing a green T-shirt, glasses, and a face mask on the other side of the fence clasp arms before the man slaps him across his cheek with his other hand.
The Security Group for the Presidency of the Republic, a security detail reportedly made up of 77 people, quickly wrestled the man to the ground and pulled Macron away. However, Macron can be seen approaching the fence and interacting with the public once more afterwards.
The man reportedly yelled “Down with Macron-ism” as he slapped Macron, along with “Montjoie, Saint-Denis,” the battle-cry and motto of the Kingdom of France, supposedly referring Charlemagne’s banner.
The man, 28, has been arrested in connection with the incident, along with another 28-year-old man who was with him. They have been accused of violence against a person holding public authority. French authorities are investigating the event.
The incident occurred during Macron’s visit to a school in the village of Tain-l’Hermitage, which is in the Drôme region of France.
Two people reportedly arrested. pic.twitter.com/4mxU7tOrMJ
— Bree A Dail (@breeadail) June 8, 2021
“A man indeed tried to hit the President of the Republic,” the Élysée Palace said in a statement shared with CNN. “We have no further comments at this point. Exchanges with the crowd and handshakes resumed. The trip continues.”
French Prime Minister Jean Castex condemned the violence as having no place in democracy.
“Democracy is debate, dialogue, the confrontation of ideas, but it will never be violence, verbal aggression and even less physical,” a translation of Castex’s tweet read.
In April, Macron said he wanted to “go to the regions to take the pulse of the country, to get in contact with people,” which some interpreted as presidential campaign stops. France’s presidential elections are only 10 months away.
Back in 2016, when Macron was France’s economy minister, he was pelted with eggs during a visit to a post office near Paris. Leftist trade unionists and members of the Communist Party who were angry about the government’s labor law reforms lobbed eggs at Macron, hitting him on the head as he went inside the building.
Macron’s political opponents also condemned the physical attack and expressed their support. Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Rally party and Macron’s chief opponent for France’s 2022 presidential election, called the incident “unacceptable.”
“I am Emmanuel Macron’s first opponent, but he is the president,” Le Pen said at a press conference on Tuesday. “One can fight him politically, but one cannot be violent in any way against him.”
France is in the process of reopening and lifting coronavirus restrictions. On Wednesday, curfew will be pushed to 11 p.m. and indoor dining will be allowed again at restaurants.
“Tomorrow, a new step will be taken,” a translated tweet from Macron said. “It is life that will resume in all our territories! It is part of our culture, of our art of living, that we are going to rediscover.”
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