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Man Who Slapped Macron Tells Court the President Embodied France’s Decay: BFM TV

Brittany Jordan

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PARIS—The medieval martial arts enthusiast who slapped President Emmanuel Macron across the face told a court he was a right-wing sympathizer who had acted because the president represented all that was rotten with France, BFM TV reported.

Damien Tarel, 28, told the court in Valence that several days ahead of Macron’s visit to the southeastern Drome region, he had thought about throwing an egg or a cream tart at the president, the news channel reported.

“I think that Macron represents very neatly the decay of our country,” he told the court according to BFM TV. “If I had challenged Macron to a duel at sunrise, I doubt he would have responded.”

Macron later described the attack as an isolated incident and said violence and hate were a threat to democracy.

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks with a member of the public before he was slapped during a visit in Tain-L’Hermitage, France, in this still image taken from video, on June 8, 2021. (BFMTV/ReutersTV via Reuters)

Tarel faced a charge of assault against a public official, an offense which carries a maximum sentence of three years in jail and a €45,000 fine.

He struck Macron on Tuesday after the president came over to greet a small crowd of onlookers after visiting a professional training college during a trip to take the country’s pulse as it emerges from the pandemic and ahead of presidential elections in 2022.

Macron reached out Tarel who was standing behind a security barrier, Tarel then shouted “Down with Macronia” (“A Bas La Macronie”) and slapped Macron on the left side of his face.

He could also be heard shouting “Montjoie Saint Denis,” the army’s battle cry when France was still a monarchy.

“It’s a patriot’s slogan,” he was quoted as telling the court.

The unemployed 28-year-old told police investigators that he had been close to the anti-government “yellow vest” protest movement which shook the Macron presidency.

Epoch Times Photo
French President Emmanuel Macron speaks as he attends a joint news conference with Rwandan President Paul Kagame at the Presidential Palace in Kigali, Rwanda, on May 27, 2021. (Jean Bizimana/Reuters)

Acquaintances of Tarel described a man who loved period role-play and was not a trouble-maker. The prosecutor said he was not a member of any political or militant group.

Tarel was arrested along with a second man from his hometown of Saint-Vallier.

Police found weapons in the second man’s home, local prosecutor Alex Perrin said.

The second man will not face any charges related to the slapping but will be prosecuted for illegal possession of arms in 2022.

Brittany Jordan is an award-winning journalist who reports on breaking news in the U.S. and globally for the Federal Inquirer. Prior to her position at the Federal Inquirer, she was a general assignment features reporter for Newsweek, where she wrote about technology, politics, government news and important global events around the world. Her work has also appeared in the Washington Post, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Toronto Star, Frederick News-Post, West Hawaii Today, the Miami Herald, and more. Brittany enjoys food, travel, photography, and hoarding notebooks and journals. Her goal is to do more longform features journalism, narrative writing and documentary work, and to one day write a successful novel and screenplay.

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