Video showed the president greeting members of the public in the village of Tain-l’Hermitage before a man in a green T-shirt grasped his hand as if about to shake it and then slapped him in the face.
— ⚜️ (@AlexpLille) June 8, 2021
The man uttered the cry ‘Montjoie Saint-Denis’ – originally a Medieval French battlecry that has since become associated with the far right.
The president is said by his entourage, who also confirmed the authenticity of the video, to be unhurt and two people have been arrested.
“The man who tried to slap the president and another individual are currently being questioned by the gendarmerie,” the préfecture said in a statement.
“Around 1.15 pm, the president got back into his car after visiting a high school and came back out because onlookers were calling out to him,” the prefecture said.
“He went to meet them and that’s where the incident happened,” it added.
Macron was visiting the south east French département of Drôme, part of his grand tour of France to ‘take the pulse of the nation’ – widely seen as the beginning of his bid for re-election in 2022.
Shortly before being slapped, Macron had been asked to comment on recent remarks from far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon who suggested at the weekend that next year’s election would be manipulated
“Democratic life needs calm and respect, from everyone, politicians as well as citizens,” Macron said.
“Politics can never be violence, verbal aggression, much less physical aggression,” Prime Minister Jean Castex told parliament after the latest incident.