A spokesperson for French President Emmanuel Macron said Wednesday that an incident in which a man slapped the president would not deter his national tour.
Macron was slapped Tuesday while shaking hands across a barrier in a small southeastern French town. The man in question was taken into custody, and after security initially pulled the president away from the scene, he resumed shaking hands and visiting with people a short time later.
At a Paris news conference Wednesday, French government spokesman Gabriel Attal told reporters that while the presidential security detail remained as vigilant as always, no special alert had been raised after the slap.
Attal said Macron would continue tours of the country because at this time, as the COVID-19 pandemic is winding down and human contact has been restricted for so long, there is no better way to “take the pulse” of the country.
“There is nothing more suited than direct contact and direct exchanges with French people. So obviously [Macron] will continue this in the coming weeks,” Attal said.
Speaking of the incident during a Cabinet meeting earlier Wednesday, Macron said any acts of physical violence must be taken seriously.
“There’s stupidity, and when stupidity comes with violence, that’s unacceptable. That’s something else. We can’t confuse it for something else,” the French president said.
Macron also said he thought people were tired from the pandemic, and that although there was never an excuse for resorting to violence, he hoped the media would not make too much of the incident. He felt it was an isolated incident and should be left as such.
Meanwhile, the French news agency, Agence France-Presse, reported that Macron’s assailant had been identified only as Damien T, 28. He remained in police custody and was expected to be charged with assaulting a public figure, which carries a maximum three-year prison term. Police said he had no criminal record.
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