A slap in the face: French president gets struck by man during visit to small town
French President Emmanuel Macron was slapped in the face by a man during a visit Tuesday to a small town in southeast France.
Macron’s office confirmed the authenticity of a video of the incident that is circulating widely online.
The French president can be seen greeting people waiting for him behind traffic barriers in the small town of Tain-l’Hermitage after he visited a high school that trains students to work in hotels and restaurants.
The video shows a man slapping Macron in the face and his bodyguards pushing the man away as the French leader is quickly rushed from the scene.
French news broadcaster BFM TV said two people have been detained by police in connection with the assault.
Macron has not commented on the incident and continued his visit.
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Speaking at the National Assembly in Paris, Prime Minister Jean Castex said that “through the head of state, that’s democracy that has been targeted” — a comment that prompted loud applause from lawmakers of all parties, who stood up in a show of support.
“Democracy is about debate, dialogue, confrontation of ideas, expression of legitimate disagreements, of course, but in no case can it be violence, verbal assault and, even less, physical assault,” Castex said.
Far-right leader Marine Le Pen tweeted her condemnation of “the intolerable physical aggression targeting the president of the Republic.”
Visibly angry, she said later that while Macron is her top political adversary, the assault was “deeply, deeply reprehensible.”
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Less than a year before France’s next presidential election, and as the country gradually reopens its pandemic-hit economy, Macron last week started a political “tour de France,” seeking to visit French regions in the coming months to “feel the pulse of the country.”
Macron has said in an interview that he wants to engage in a mass consultation with the French public aimed at “turning the page” of the pandemic — and preparing his possible campaign for a second term.
The attack follows mounting concerns in France about violence targeting elected officials, particularly after the often-violent “yellow vest” economic protest movement, which resulted in repeated clashes between demonstrators and riot officers in 2019.
Village mayors and lawmakers have been among those targeted by physical assaults, death threats and harassment.
France’s well-protected head of state had been spared until now, which compounded the shock waves that rippled through the French political establishment after the incident.
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