French President Emmanuel Macron was slapped in the face by a man while he visited a small town in southeast France on Tuesday June 8.
Video footage showed Macron greeting the residents at Tain-l’Hermitage in the French department of Drôme when a man grabbed Macron’s arm and slapped his left cheek.
The man reportedly yelled “À bas la Macronie,” which means “down with Macronism” and “Montjoie Saint-Denis,” the battle cry of the French army when the country was still a monarchy. The phrase has been co-opted in recent years by royalists and the far-right in France, Reuters reported, citing a political scientist.
Two 28-year-old men, identified as yellow vest protestors, have been arrested and held for “deliberate violence against a person of public authority”.
They risk three years in prison and a $50,000 fine over the attack, according to NPR. “We must not let this overshadow the other issues that are so important to the lives of so many,” Macron told local outlet, the Dauphiné Libéré. “I don’t want isolated individuals or those who go to extremes to somehow make people forget the rest.”
The yellow vest movement, also known as the gilets jaunes, started from 2018, to protest against as Macron’s proposed green tax on fuel as part of his environmental policy strategy.
The movement originated from rural areas where people drive long distances daily and spreaded to cities, including Paris, where demonstrations against the rising gas prices turned into riots.
“It is unacceptable to physically attack the president”, Macron’s biggest political opponent, far-right leader Marine Le Pen, said. “We can beat him politically but we cannot accept the slightest violence towards him.”
The country’s former president, François Hollande, also tweeted his support for Macron on this incident on Twitter, “The whole nation must show solidarity with the head of state.”
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