French President Macron Denounces ‘Stupidity,’ Violence After Face Slap

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    French President Emmanuel Macron denounced “violence” and “stupidity” after he was slapped in the face Tuesday by a man during a visit to a small town in southeastern France.

    The incident prompted a wide show of support for the head of state from politicians across the ideological spectrum.

    Macron was greeting the public waiting for him behind barriers in the town of Tain-l’Hermitage after he visited a high school.

    Two videos show a man 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 reporters 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 Le Dauphine Libere.

    “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.

    Macron said he didn’t have specific concerns after the assault.

    “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 Macron, raised a hand in defence of the president, but was a fraction of a second too late to stop the 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 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.

    Less than one year before France’s next presidential election, centrist Macron embarked last week on a political “tour de France,” saying he plans to visit French regions in the coming months to “feel the pulse of the country” as the government works to revive the nation’s pandemic-hit economy.

    Macron has said in an interview he wants to engage with people in a mass consultation with the French public aimed at “turning the page” of the pandemic – and preparing his possible campaign for a second term.

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    In This Story: Emmanuel Macron

    Emmanuel Jean-Michel Frédéric Macron is a French politician who has been President of France and ex officio Co-Prince of Andorra since 14 May 2017. In the legislative elections a month later, Macron’s party, renamed “La République En Marche!” (LREM), secured a majority in the National Assembly. At the age of 39, Macron became the youngest president in French history.

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  • In This Story: France

    France is a republic and the largest Western European nation. Through expansion and colonisation in the 17th and 18th centuries France became a great power and still retains territories around the world. It has a seat on the UN security council and is the world’s fourth most wealthy country with a high standard of living and strong cultural identity.

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