French President Macron attends a Climate Summit video conference, at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, 22 April 2021.
Ian Langsdon | Reuters
French President Emmanuel Macron was slapped in the face, leading police to arrest two men, a spokesman for the National Gendarmerie told NBC News on Tuesday.
A widely circulated video clip shows a masked man shouting “Down with Macronia” in French before swinging at the president’s face with his open palm.
The two suspects were arrested after the incident, which occurred during Macron’s visit to a school in southeast France, NBC reported.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex later Tuesday condemned political violence and aggression as undemocratic.
“I call for a renewal of the republic,” Castex tweeted in French.
The trip to the Tain-Hermitage school, which specializes in the restaurant industry, came on the eve of the French government lifting restrictions on indoor dining and other measures implemented during the coronavirus pandemic.
Macron was scheduled to meet with restaurant industry representatives, NBC reported.
Video of the incident shows Macron, wearing a black mask, approaching a crowd of people standing on the other side of a partition. Macron appears to pat the forearm of the closest person in the crowd, a man clad in a green T-shirt and a white mask.
As Marcon appears to start inching down the line of onlookers, the man moves to slap the president in the face, the video shows. Just before the slap, the man shouted “Montjoie Saint Denis,” the battle-cry of the former French monarchy, as well as “A Bas La Macronie,” which translates to “Down with Macronia,” multiple outlets reported.
Bodyguards for Macron immediately swarmed the man and hurried the president away from him. Macron returned to greet the crowd farther down the line, according to the video.
The suspects are in custody and French authorities are investigating the case, NBC reported. One person was arrested for the slap itself, while the other suspect’s role is yet unclear, according to NBC.
Macron in a tweet earlier Tuesday had used the visit to the Drome region school to highlight the latest steps in his government’s Covid reopening plan.
Starting Wednesday, curfews will be extended to 11 p.m. and indoor dining will once again be permitted at restaurants and bistros, NBC reported. The remaining restrictions will be lifted at the end of June, depending on the prevalence of the pandemic in France at that time.
“Tomorrow, a new step will be taken,” a translation of Macron’s tweet said. “It is life that will resume in all our territories! It is part of our culture, of our art of living, that we are going to rediscover.”