It was the slap felt round the world.
A man smacked Emmanuel Macron in the face on Tuesday when the French president approached bystanders during the second stop of his nationwide tour of France.
Photos and video of the altercation went viral on Tuesday, showing Macron walking up to a barrier in the village of Tain-l’Hermitage, outside the city of Valence in southeast France, to greet residents. The footage shows a man in a green shirt step up and slap Macron, 43, on the left cheek, followed by bodyguards quickly pulling the president away.
The man reportedly shouted “Down with Macron-ism” as he slapped the president. Two people were arrested, according to the Agence France-Presse news agency. “The man who tried to slap the president and another individual are currently being questioned by the gendarmerie,” the regional prefecture said in a statement.
“Around 1:15 p.m. [local time], the president got back into his car after visiting a high school and came back out because onlookers were calling out to him,” it said. “He went to meet them and that’s where the incident happened.”
Watch it here:
Macron later told local newspaper Le Dauphine Libere that this was an “isolated incident” that wouldn’t stop him from touring the country.
“Everything goes well … We must not let isolated acts, ultra-violent individuals, like there had been some also in (street) protests, dominate the public debate: they don’t deserve it,” he said, as reported by the Associated Press.
“I greeted the people who were by the man’s side and made pictures with them. I continued and will continue. Nothing will stop me,” he added.
The clip spread far and wide on social media, however, leading Macron’s name to trend on Twitter
on Tuesday in the U.S., with more than 385,000 tweets by the afternoon.
It led some to look back to other times when politicians around the world have needed quick reflexes to avoid physical attacks from onlookers.
Getting egged or flour-bombed has long been an occupational hazard for elected officials in France, it seems. Macron was egged in 2016 by by General Confederation of Labour activists protesting labor reforms while he was visiting a post office near Paris, for example. And in 2017 former Prime Minister François Fillon was pelted with flour at a campaign rally.
U.K. leaders have also had to contend with “milkshaking,” which is when protesters splash politicians with milkshakes and other drinks. The frothy flak gained popularity during the 2019 European Parliament election, in fact, when several U.K. Independence Party members and Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage had milkshakes thrown at them.
There was an infamous 2008 shoe-throwing incident involving President George W. Bush. An Iraqi journalist threw his shoes at the president during an Iraqi press conference, but Bush was able to dodge both projectiles.
In 2012, both Rep. Ron Paul and Mitt Romney, then a Republican presidential hopeful and now the junior senator from Utah, were glitter bombed by protesters, while then–Sacramento, Calif., Mayor Kevin Johnson was hit in the face with a coconut cream pie during a 2016 charity event.