REUTERS – A man slapped President Emmanuel Macron in the face on Tuesday during a walkabout in southern France.
Emmanuel Macron later said he had not feared for his safety, and that nothing would stop him from carrying on with his job.
In a video circulating on social media, Emmanuel Macron reached out his hand to greet a man in a small crowd of onlookers standing behind a metal barrier as he visited a professional training college for the hospitality industry.
The man, who was dressed in a khaki T-shirt, then shouted Down with Macronia (“A Bas La Macronie”) and slapped Macron on his face.
He could also be heard shouting “Montjoie Saint-Denis”, the battle cry of the French army when the country was still a monarchy.
Two of Macron’s security detail tackled the man in the T-shirt, and another ushered Macron away. Another video posted on Twitter showed that the president, a few seconds later, returned to the line of onlookers and resumed shaking hands.
The local mayor, Xavier Angeli, told France Info radio that Emmanuel Macron urged his security to “leave him, leave him” as the offender was being held to the ground.
Two people were arrested, a police source told Reuters. The identity of the man who slapped Macron, and his motives were unclear.
The slogan the man shouted has been co-opted in the past few years by royalists and people on the far-right in France, Fiametta Venner, a political scientist who studies French extremists, told broadcaster BFMTV.
Macron was on a visit to the Drome region to meet restaurateurs and students and talk about returning to a normal life after the COVID pandemic.
It was one of a series of visits he is making, his aides say, to take the nation’s pulse before a presidential election next year. He later continued his visit to the region.