Emmanuel Macron slapped in the face while shaking hands with members of the public

French president unharmed after being struck on visit to southern France

French President Emmanuel Macron was slapped in the face during a visit to southern France before he was quickly pulled away unharmed by his bodyguards.

In a video posted online, a man wearing a standard Covid-19 face mask exchanges a few words with Mr Macron as the president approaches the crowd during a visit to the town of Tain-l'Hermitage.

As Mr Macron grips his arm, the man hits him on his left cheek before being controlled by the presidential security team.

“A man indeed tried to hit the president. We have no further comment at that stage,” a spokesman for the French presidency said.

“The discussions with the crowd and the hand shaking went on. The trip goes on."

Two people were arrested, according to local authorities.

Prime Minister Jean Castex was given a standing ovation at the start of government questions in the National Assembly in Paris when he condemned the attack.

“Through the head of state, it is quite simply democracy that is targeted,” Mr Castex said.

“Democracy is about debate, dialogue, competing ideas, the expression of legitimate disagreement. But it can never be about violence.”

Earlier in the visit, Mr Macron urged “everybody to calm down” amid rising political tensions with the presidential election less than a year away.

On Sunday, Jean-Luc Melenchon, a far-left candidate for the presidency, suggested that a “grave incident or a murder” could occur to upset the wider population and “invent a civil war” before the vote.

After widespread criticism, Mr Melenchon backtracked, saying that aggressors focus on the run-up to elections to attract as much attention as possible.

Updated: June 9, 2021 03:52 PM

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