French President Emmanuel Macron slapped in the face

Brenda Watkins
June 8, 2021

French President Emmanuel Macron reached out for a handshake, while on a regional tour, but received a high-five to the face instead on Tuesday, 8 June, when a man in southeast France slapped him across the face.

In video circulating on social media, Macron, dressed in shirt sleeves, could be seen walking towards a crowd of well-wishers who were behind a metal barrier.

Macron continued his trip afterwards, said an aide, who described the incident as an "attempted slap" though video footage appeared to show the man making contact with the president's face. Mr Macron drew back from the blow and was quickly pulled away by security.

Two men have reportedly been arrested in the wake of the incident, according to French media.

The incident was caught on camera as a bearded man wearing glasses and a face mask slapping the president hard on his left cheek.

As yet the identity and motive of the man are unclear. The man was swiftly swarmed by security. "We have no further comment to make at this stage", said an Elysée official on Tuesday.

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A few minutes before the attack, Macron had launched an appeal for "peace across France", and called for people to "respect one another".

"Although democratic debate can be bitter, it can by no means tolerate physical violence".

In 2018, "Montjoie! Saint Denis!" was cried out by someone who threw a cream pie at far-left French lawmaker Eric Coquerel.

Politicians from across the political spectrum condemned the physical attack and denounced a political context of mounting verbal violence.

In 2016 - before he became President a year later - Mr Macron was pelted with eggs by Communist Party members outside a post office in the Paris suburb of Montreuil.

The incident in the village of Tain-l'Hermitage in the Drome region represents a serious security breach and overshadows the start of Macron's tour which he said was created to "take the country's pulse". His successor, Hollande, was showered with flour the next year, months before winning the presidential election.

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