France's Macron slapped in face during walkabout


French President Emmanuel Macron was slapped by a man at a receiving line as he came out of a professional high school in southeastern France, according to a video circulating on social media.

"The man who tried to slap the president and another individual are now being questioned by the gendarmerie", the statement added. Macron is immediately pulled away by his personal security officer.

The footage, shared by CNN-affiliate BFM, showed Macron walking up to a metal fence and clasping the arm of a man in the crowd as he began to greet onlookers. The presidential guard quickly move in and take hold of the assailant.

The incident in the village of Tain-l'Hermitage in the Drome region represents a serious security breach and overshadows the start of Macron's tour which he said was created to "take the country's pulse".

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"He went to meet them and that's where the incident happened", it added. According to AFP, a French official said two people were detained after the slap.

Around a dozen stops had been planned over the next two months, with Macron keen to meet voters in person after more than a year of crisis management linked to the Covid-19 pandemic. "Respect for the institutions of the Republic and its representatives is a cardinal principle of our democratic life".

Just a few minutes after the attack, Macron's ally, Prime Minister Jean Castex, took the floor of the National Assembly where he warned of attacks on 'the foundations of democracy'. He was heard yelling "A Bas La Macronie" (Down with Macron) and "Montjoie Saint Denis" (a battle cry of the French armies when the country was still a monarchy) before slapping the leader.

His opponents see it as a campaigning effort two weeks out from regional elections and less than a year from the presidential election.