French Prime Minister Jean Castex called the June 8 slap incident against President Emmanuel Macron a blow to democracy.
“Through the president of the republic, a blow is directed at democracy… Democracy is a debate, it is a dialogue, it is a clash of ideas, it is a legitimate expression of dissent, of course. But it can by no means be violence, verbal aggression, let alone physical aggression,” Castex told a meeting of the National Assembly.
Macron was slapped in the face by an unidentified man during a visit to the southeast of the country in the department of Drôme on June 8. The incident was caught on video, which then began to spread quickly on social media. The footage from the video shows the head of state heading to the waiting locals to chat. When he was about to shake hands with an unknown man, the latter slapped the French leader. The president’s guards immediately led him away.
Two people were detained on the fact of the incident for “deliberate violence against a person endowed with state power,” reports BFM.TV.
A similar precedent already took place in 2011, when then French President Nicolas Sarkozy was pulled by the collar during a trip to Brax. Then the perpetrator was sentenced to six months of suspended imprisonment with three-year probation, mandatory hospital treatment, and two days of citizenship training, which in France was an alternative to imprisonment. He managed to avoid prison because prosecutors demanded nine months in jail, six of which were probation. The man, who was a municipal employee, was also dismissed for one year.
On June 8, the leader of the National Front party Marine Le Pen said on Twitter that “a physical attack on the president of the republic” is unacceptable. Marine Le Pen stressed that it is possible to fight the president by political means, but any display of violence in his direction is unacceptable.
Earlier, on May 31, the President of France said on Twitter that he was vaccinated against the coronavirus. The French leader did not specify what vaccine he was inoculated with and when. In a subsequent post, Macron urged others to get vaccinated as well.
Prior to that, on May 24, Macron attended a private concert by the parody metal band ULTRA VOMIT in the gardens of the Elysee Palace. To promote measures to protect against coronavirus infection, Macron asked France’s two leading YouTube comedians McFly and Carlito to record videos on the benefits of washing hands, wearing masks, and keeping a social distance. He promised that if their video gets 10 million views, the comedians can film their next project at the Elysee Palace.