By John Ikani
French President Emmanuel Macron has been slapped in the face on an official visit to the south-east of France.
A video clip circulating on Twitter shows a man in a green T-shirt and glasses shout “Down with Macronia” in French before slapping Macron’s face.
Two men have been arrested following the incident, French media report.
How the incident unfolded
The incident took place as Macron visited the southeastern region to meet restaurateurs and students to talk about how life is returning to normal as the country’s COVID lockdown eases.
Macron had been seen walking towards a crowd of apparent well-wishers behind a metal barrier in the village of Tain-l’Hermitage. He reached out his hand to greet the individual, who then hit him.
During the incident, the man — whose identity and motives were initially unclear — could be heard shouting “Montjoie Saint Denis” —a French army battle cry from when the country was still a monarchy.
Security for Macron quickly tackled the man to the ground, and moved the president away to safety.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex has called the incident an affront to democracy. Shortly after the incident, he told the National Assembly that while democracy meant debate and legitimate disagreement, “it must never in any case mean violence, verbal aggression and physical attack”.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of the far-left La France Insoumise party, and member of the National Assembly, has tweeted his “solidarity with the President”.
Far-right leader, Marine Le Pen also tweeted her condemnation of the attack. “While democratic debate can be bitter, it can never tolerate physical violence. I strongly condemn the intolerable physical aggression which targeted the President of the Republic.”
The former president of France, François Hollande, tweeted: “Attacking the President of the Republic is an unbearable and intolerable blow to our institutions. In the face of this unspeakable act, the whole nation must show solidarity with the Head of State. In these circumstances, I send my full support to @EmmanuelMacron”.