By Our Reporter
rench President Emmanuel Macron was caught on video being slapped across the face Tuesday during a tour to “take the country’s pulse” amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“À bas la Macronie!” a man could be heard shouting — “Down with Macronia!” — at the 43-year-old leader in the village of Tain-l’Hermitage in the Drome region.
The man also could be heard shouting “Montjoie Saint Denis!” — the battle cry of the French army when the country was still a monarchy.
He then delivered the sharp slap on Macron’s left cheek.
The president’s bodyguards quickly intervened and two people were arrested, BFM TV and RMC radio reported.
“The man who tried to slap the president and another individual are currently being questioned by the gendarmerie,” the regional prefecture said in a statement, according to AFP.
“Around 1:15 p.m., the president got back into his car after visiting a high school and came back out because onlookers were calling out to him,” it said.
“He went to meet them and that’s where the incident happened,” according to the statement.
Dressed in shirt sleeves, Macron met restaurateurs and students to talk about returning to a normal life after the coronavirus pandemic.
The shocking incident unfolded when he rushed over to a group of well-wishers standing behind a metal barrier – but one of them clearly didn’t wish him well.
When Macron reached out his hand to him, the man — who was wearing a green T-shirt, glasses and a face mask — proceeded to yell and then hit him.
Macron remained in the area briefly, gesturing to someone on the other side of the barriers before his security team ushered him away.
The Elysee Palace said only that there had been an attempt to strike Macron, but declined further comment.
￼Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech before a lunch in Tain l’Hermitage, France, on June 8, 2021.PHILIPPE DESMAZES/POOL/AFP via Getty Images
Prime Minister Jean Castex said the incident, which overshadowed the start of Macron’s tour, was an affront to democracy.
“Politics can never be violence, verbal aggression, much less physical aggression,” he said.
The centrist is widely expected to seek re-election next year, as polls show him with a narrow lead over far-right leader Marine Le Pen.
About a dozen stops had been planned over the next two months, with Macron eager to meet voters after more than a year of crisis management during the pandemic.
Shortly before being slapped, he had been asked to comment on recent remarks from far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon, who suggested that the election would be manipulated.
“Democratic life needs calm and respect, from everyone, politicians as well as citizens,” Macron said.
In July 2020, Macron and his wife, Brigitte, were verbally harassed by a group of protesters while taking a walk through the Tuileries gardens in central Paris.
During a 2018 trip to mark the centenary of the end of World War I, furious citizens booed and heckled the nation’s youngest post-war leader, AFP reported.
At the time, “yellow vest” protests were mounting to denounce the government’s policies and the head of state personally for his leadership style, which has been assailed as aloof and arrogant.
In 2019, Macron conducted another tour billed as a listening exercise in the aftermath of those protests, which rattled the country and saw him promise to change his way of governing.