Two people have been arrested after French President Emmanuel Macron was slapped in the face by a man while visiting the commune of Tain-l’Hermitage on Tuesday, an incident that has been widely condemned by political party leaders.
The incident took place during Macron’s “Tour of the French territories” in the department of Drôme and was caught on video and spread across social media. The video shows the French president approach a man to shake his hand, before the member of the public slaps Macron across the face before being tackled by security and police.
According to a report from broadcaster BFMTV, two people were arrested immediately after the assault on the French head of state on a charge of “willful violence against a person in charge of public authority.”
French populist National Rally (RN) leader Marine Le Pen condemned the attack saying, “It is unacceptable to physically attack the President of the Republic. It is unacceptable to attack politicians but even more so the President of the Republic because he is the President of the Republic.”
Two people reportedly arrested. pic.twitter.com/4mxU7tOrMJ
— Bree A Dail (@breeadail) June 8, 2021
“We can fight him politically but we cannot afford to have the slightest gesture, the slightest violence against him,” Le Pen said.
Xavier Bertrand, a member of the centre-right Les Repupicains, also commented on the attack saying, “No political disagreement will ever justify violence. Respect for the institutions of the Republic and its representatives is a cardinal principle of our democratic life.”
Far-left politician Jean-Luc Mélenchon stated that he was in solidarity with President Macron saying, “This time you are beginning to understand that the violent take action? I stand in solidarity with the President.”
It is unclear what the motivation was behind the attack on Macron, but far-left MP Éric Coquerel linked the attack to the “royalist far-right,” claiming that he had been attacked by members of the royalist group action française in a similar manner several years ago.
With the French presidential election just under a year away, the assault on Macron follows an April report that suggested he could lose the French presidential race to Ms Le Pen under certain conditions, according to the Jean-Jaurès Foundation.
One of the conditions for a Le Pen victory, according to the foundation, is a hatred for Macron among voters that could lead to a large abstaining from voting among supporters of the far-left and the centre-right.
While Le Pen has officially declared her candidacy for the 2022 presidential elections, President Macron has so far not officially declared he will be running but is expected to run and polls show he will likely face Le Pen in a second-round run-off vote.
The attack on Macron comes just over ten years after another political leader, former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, was attacked in Milan in 2009 by a man wielding a statue, who broke the former Prime Minister’s nose.
Attacks on public officials in France have also increased in general in recent years, with a report released late last month revealing that there were 1,276 acts of aggression toward French mayors in 2020, triple the number from the previous year.
Attacks and Threats on French Mayors Tripled in 2020 https://t.co/uqyNQNih2p
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) May 30, 2021