During a journey to southeast France on Tuesday, on the second stop in a nationwide tour, a spectator smacked French President Emmanuel Macron across the face.
Macron approached a barrier to welcome a guy who, instead of shaking hands, smacked the 43-year-old across the face, according to images on social media and shown on the BFM news station.
Macron’s security reacted promptly, and two individuals were detained as a result, according to local authorities.
“The gendarmerie is presently questioning the guy who attempted to slap the president and another person,” the regional prefecture stated in a statement.
The incident in the Drome region’s town of Tain-l’Hermitage is a severe security lapse that overshadows Macron’s visit, which he stated was meant to “take the country’s pulse.”
“The president got back into his vehicle at 1:15 pm (1115 GMT) after visiting a high school and came back out because people were crying out to him,” the prefecture said.
“He went to meet them, and that’s when the event occurred,” the statement said.
In next year’s presidential elections, the moderate is largely likely to run for re-election, with polls showing him with a slim lead over far-right leader Marine Le Pen.
After more than a year of crisis management connected to the Covid-19 outbreak, Macron was eager to meet voters in person and had scheduled a dozen trips over the following two months.
Macron had been asked to react to recent statements by far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon, who warned over the weekend that next year’s election might be rigged, just before he was smacked.
“Everyone, politicians and civilians alike, must maintain calm and respect in democratic life,” Macron added.
Last July, while enjoying an unscheduled trip through the Tuileries gardens in downtown Paris, Macron and his wife Brigitte were verbally attacked by a group of demonstrators.
After the latest incident, Prime Minister Jean Castex warned parliament, “Politics can never involve violence, verbal aggressiveness, much less physical assault.”
Macron has gone on multiple additional trips since his election victory in 2017 against the conventional governing parties on the left and right.
The sights of outraged residents booing and heckling France’s youngest post-war leader on a 2018 trip to commemorate the centennial of the end of World War I are most known.
It happened at a time when “yellow vest” rallies were gaining traction to oppose the government’s policies and the president himself for his aloof and arrogant leadership style.
In the aftermath of those demonstrations, which rocked the nation and saw Macron pledge to modify his method of governing, Macron embarked on another listening tour in 2019.