French President Emmanuel Macron was slapped in the face by a man who yelled “down with Macron” as he spoke to the public during a visit to southeast France on Tuesday, video of the incident posted on social media showed.
The footage, shared 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 man, while gripping Macron’s arm, then slapped the president across his left cheek.
Macron’s security detail quickly intervened, tackling the man while pulling the president away from the metal barrier.
Two men have been arrested following the incident, French media report.
The man reportedly shouted “Down with Macron-ism” as he slapped the president.
As yet the identity and motive of the man are unclear. The local prefecture said he and another individual are being questioned by the gendarmerie, in a statement reported by AFP news agency.
Officers were out in force on the streets of Valence shortly after the slap, according to one French journalist’s tweet.
Politicians have swiftly denounced the incident.
Prime Minister Jean Castex told the National Assembly shortly afterwards that while democracy meant debate and legitimate disagreement “it must never in any case mean violence, verbal aggression and even less physical attack”.
President Macron is currently on a tour of France and had just visited a hotel school in Tain-l’Hermitage. His visit to the area was set to continue on Tuesday, officials said, with a trip to a vocational institute for 25-30 year-olds.
The president’s visit comes on the eve of a major step for French bars and restaurants, which will be able to reopen to indoor customers after seven months of closure. France’s overnight curfew is also being pushed back from 21:00 to 23:00 on Wednesday.
“Tomorrow, a new step will be taken,” Mr Macron tweeted after his visit to the hotel school. “Life will resume in all our territories!”
مواطن فرنسي يصفع الرئيس الفرنسي "ماكرون" pic.twitter.com/vPuyVDw5v2
— روكيت (@_Rockeet) June 8, 2021