Tuesday 08 June 2021
I wrote – Rana Osama:
The Elysee Palace said that French President Emmanuel Macron continued to shake hands with the crowd in the La Drome region, in southeastern France, after being slapped by an unknown citizen, in the first comment on the incident.
The French presidential palace confirmed that “a person did indeed try to slap President Emmanuel Macron,” without providing further information about the person’s identity or motives.
He continued, in a brief statement to CNN, “We have no further comments at the moment. The handshakes of (President Macron) with the crowd have resumed. And the journey continues.”
A spokesman for the Elysee added that Macron “was not seriously injured”, according to the British newspaper, “Mirror”.
French and international media and social media circulated a video clip documenting the moment Macron was slapped while on an internal tour, in a school in the town of Tine-Larmitage.
🚨🇫🇷 | BREAKING: Macron slapped in the face
— Politics For All (@PoliticsForAlI) June 8, 2021
“Down with the macaroni”
In the video, a man appeared among the crowd behind a metal barrier, wearing a green shirt, glasses and a mask, chanting “Macaroni down” and shouting “Montjoie Saint-Denis” – the battle cry of the French armies when the country was still monarchy.
As the French president went to shake hands with that man and grabbed his hand, the latter slapped him with his other hand.
Immediately after the blow, the French president’s security entourage quickly intervened to lure the man to the ground and drive Macron away from him.
Macron stayed near the crowd for a few more seconds, after being slapped, and appeared to be talking to someone on the other side of the barrier.
This is not the first time that Macron has been attacked in a crowd while in public.
In 2016, before he became president, Macron was pelted with eggs by Communist Party members outside a post office in the Paris suburb of Montreuil.
‘An insult to democracy’
French Prime Minister Jean Castix described the incident as an “affront to democracy”.
The French authorities arrested two people following the attack.
“One of them is believed to have described himself as an anarchist,” a local police spokesman told Mirror, noting that the investigation was still ongoing.
An eyewitness told the newspaper: “Macron seemed very calm.”
He added that “there was more cursing and shouting” on the part of the person who slapped Macron, as security was trying to keep the French president away.
Macron’s tour takes place two weeks before regional elections, and less than a year before the French presidential election in 2022.