A video of a bystander bitch slapping French President Emmanuel Macron across the face during a trip to southeast France on Tuesday has gone viral on social media. Macron denounced the bitch slap as “violence” and “stupidity”.
Macron was greeting the public waiting for him behind barriers in the town of Tain-l’Hermitage after he visited a high school. The viral video shows a man bitch slapping Macron in the face and his bodyguards pushing the assaulter away as the French leader is quickly rushed from the scene.
“I’m always going to meet people,” Macron told AP on Tuesday evening, as he was greeting a crowd in the nearby city of Valence, accompanied this time by his wife, Brigitte Macron.
“Some people express anger, sometimes disarray … that’s legitimate anger, and we will continue to respond. Stupidity and violence, no, not in democracy,” he said.
A few hours earlier, Macron had taken another 25-minute walk in the narrow streets of the city, posing for selfies with a small crowd and chatting with many people in a laid-back atmosphere.
Macron described the incident as an “isolated act,” in an interview with local newspaper outlet.
“We must not let isolated acts, ultra-violent individuals, like there had been some also in (street) protests, dominate the public debate: they don’t deserve it,” he said. The french president said he didn’t have specific concerns after getting bitch slapped.
“I greeted the people who were by the man’s side and made pictures with them. I continued and will continue. Nothing will stop me,” he said.
A bodyguard, who was standing right behind French President Macron, raised a hand in defense of the president, but was a fraction of a second too late to stop the bitch slap. The bodyguard then put his arm around the president to protect him.
Macron just managed to turn his face away as the aggressor’s right hand connected, making it appear that the president took more of a glancing blow than a direct slap.
The man, who was wearing a mask, appears to have cried out “Montjoie! Saint Denis!” a centuries-old royalist war cry, before finishing with “A bas la Macronie,” or “Down with Macron.”
Another video showed Macron immediately coming back after the incident, seemingly to face his assailant, and then to say hello to other members of the crowd.
Valence prosecutor Alex Perrin said in a statement that police have detained the man who bitch slapped Macron and another man who was accompanying him. Their motives aren’t known at this stage, he said.
They are both 28 and live in the region. They weren’t armed and not previously known to police. They are being detained on suspicion of “violence on a person in a position of public authority,” the statement said.
The Associated Press