Emmanuel Macron has been slapped across the face during a walkabout to greet voters in southern France.
The man, who took the French President by the arm, shouted: ‘Down with Macronia’ (‘A Bas La Macronie’) as he delivered the blow.
Security guards quickly seized upon the assailant and bundled him to the ground, as one of Macron’s security detail pulled him away to safety.
Two people were arrested following the incident in the village of Tain-l’Hermitage in the Drome region where Macron had been meeting restaurateurs and students to talk about how life is returning to normal after the Covid restrictions were eased.
French President Emmanuel Macron was slapped across the face by a man during a trip to southeast France on Tuesday, an aide said.
In video circulating on social media, Macron, dressed in shirt sleeves, could be seen walking towards a crowd of well-wishers who were behind a metal barrier.
The French president reached out his hand to greet one man, in a green T-Shirt, with glasses and a face mask.
‘Mr Macron appeared very relaxed and thought he was getting a good reception from those watching him,’ said an eye-witness.
‘He was outside a catering school when he stuck his right hand towards a man who promptly grabbed it.
‘Then the man slapped the President in the face, before Mr Macron was pulled away by security guards.’
Two of Macron’s security detail tackled the man in the green T-shirt, while another ushered Macron away.
But Macron remained in the vicinity of the crowd for a few more seconds, and appeared to be talking to someone on the other side of the barriers.
A local police spokesman confirmed that two men had been arrested at the scene of the attack.
‘One is thought to have described himself as an anarchist, but an enquiry is ongoing’ said the spokesman.
The presidential administration said there had been an attempt to strike Macron, but declined further comment.
A few minutes before the attack, Macron had launched an appeal for ‘peace across France’, and called for people to ‘respect one another’.
He told journalists: ‘Democratic life needs calm and respect, from everybody involved – from political leaders and citizens like.
‘In a democracy, opponents can express themselves freely, on the street, in the press, on television, and through the ballot box.
Two people were arrested following the incident in the village of Tain-l’Hermitage in the Drome region where Macron had been meeting restaurateurs and students to talk about how life is returning to normal after the Covid restrictions were eased
‘The benefit of all this is that it puts an end to violent and hatred. If hatred and violence come back they weaken one thing, and that is democracy, and that’s why I’m urging everybody to respect each other and remain calm’.
The Royalist slogan ‘Montjoie Saint Denis!’ was also heard during today’s attack.
It was the battle cry and motto of the Kingdom of France before the 1789 Revolution.
Mr Macron’s prime minister Jean Castex criticised the attacker saying: ‘Politics should have nothing to do with violence.’
It is not the first time that Mr Macron has been attacked by angry crowd members while out in public.
In 2016 – before he became President a year later – Mr Macron was pelted with eggs by Communist Party members outside a post office in the Paris suburb of Montreuil.
Macron is currently on a ‘Tour de France’ to ‘take the pulse of the country,’ according to the Elysee Palace.
His opponents see it as a campaigning effort two weeks out from regional elections and less than a year from the presidential election.