Who slapped Emmanuel Macron? French president’s face slap explained - and if arrests have been made

The president was on a tour of France when the incident took place in the small town of Tain-l'Hermitage
Emmanuel Macron was slapped by a bystander on TuesdayEmmanuel Macron was slapped by a bystander on Tuesday
Emmanuel Macron was slapped by a bystander on Tuesday

On Tuesday, French President Emmanuel Macron was slapped in the face by a man during a visit to a small town in southeast France.

Mr Macron's office on Tuesday confirmed the video that was widely circulating online.

The French president can be seen greeting the public waiting for him behind barriers in the town of Tain-l'Hermitage after he visited a high school that is training students to work in hotels and restaurants.

The video shows a man slapping Mr Macron in the face and his bodyguards pushing the man away as the French leader quickly leaves the scene.

Two people have been detained by police.

Mr Macron has not commented yet on the incident and continued his visit.

Why was Macron slapped?

The man who carried out the assault was wearing a khaki t-shirt and shout "Down with Macronism" ("A Bas La Macronie").

He also shouted "Montjoie Saint Denis", a battlecry of the French Army when it was still a monarchy – a slogan adopted by royalists and the French far-right.

The motive for the attack is unclear at this stage.

A 28-year-old man named only as Damien T has been arrested.

According to French media he is a fan of medieval martial arts and board games, as well as a subscriber to several far-right Youtube channels

The attack follows mounting concerns in France about violence targeting elected officials, particularly after the often-violent "yellow vest" economic protest movement that repeatedly clashed with riot officers in 2019.

Village mayors and politicians have been among those targeted by physical assaults, death threats and harassment.

But France's well-protected head of state has been spared until now, which compounded the shockwaves that rippled through French politics in the wake of the attack.

How has the French government and opposition responded?

Speaking at the National Assembly, prime minister Jean Castex said "through the head of state, that's democracy that has been targeted", in comments prompting loud applause from politicians from all ranks, standing up in a show of support.

"Democracy is about debate, dialogue, confrontation of ideas, expression of legitimate disagreements, of course, but in no case it can be violence, verbal assault and even less physical assault," Mr Castex said.

Far-right leader Marine Le Pen firmly condemned on Twitter "the intolerable physical aggression targeting the president of the Republic".

Visibly fuming, she said later that while Mr Macron is her top political adversary, the assault was "deeply, deeply reprehensible".

Less than one year before France's next presidential election and as the country is gradually reopening its pandemic-hit economy, Mr 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".

Mr Macron has said in an interview he wanted to engage with people 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.

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