French President Emmanuel Macron was slapped in the face on Tuesday by a man in a crowd of onlookers while on a walkabout in southern France, a video of the incident on social media showed.
Macron’s security entourage quickly intervened to pull the man to the ground and move Macron away from him, Reuters reported.
Two people were arrested in connection with the incident, broadcasters BFM TV and RMC radio reported.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex said the incident was an affront to democracy.
The incident took place while Macron was on a visit to the Drome region in south-eastern France, where he met restaurateurs and students to talk about how life is returning to normal after the COVID-19 epidemic.
In a video circulating on social media, Macron, dressed in shirt sleeves, could be seen walking towards a crowd of well-wishers who were behind a metal barrier.
The French president reached out his hand to greet one man, in a green T-Shirt, with glasses and a face mask.
The man could be heard shouting out “Down with Macronia” (“A Bas La Macronie”) and then he delivered a slap to Macron’s face, still while shaking Macron’s hand.
Two of Macron’s security detail tackled the man in the green T-shirt, while another ushered Macron away. But Macron remained in the vicinity of the crowd for a few more seconds, and appeared to be talking to someone on the other side of the barriers, Reuters reported.
The presidential administration said there had been an attempt to strike Macron, but declined further comment.
The identity of the man who slapped Macron, and his motives, were unclear.
While slapping the president, he could be heard shouting “Montjoie Saint Denis,” which was the battle cry of the French armies when the country was still a monarchy.
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The first Israeli government in 12 years not led by Benjamin Netanyahu got down to business on Monday, with the former prime minister shying away from a handover ceremony with successor Naftali Bennett.
The right-wing leader’s record run in office ended on Sunday with parliament approving, by a razor-thin majority of 60-59, a new administration led by Bennett, a nationalist whose views mirror Netanyahu’s on many issues.
In Tel Aviv, thousands turned out to welcome the result, after four inconclusive elections in two years.
“I am here celebrating the end of an era in Israel,” said Erez Biezuner in Rabin Square.
“We want them to succeed and to unite us again,” he added, as flag-waving supporters of the new government sang and danced around him.
A combative Netanyahu, 71, said he would be back sooner than expected.
“If we are destined to go into the opposition, we will do so with our heads held high until we can topple it,” he told parliament before Bennett was sworn in.
The traditional handover ceremony was not scheduled at the prime minister’s office, where Netanyahu was expected to meet Bennett later on Monday to brief him on state matters.
The last time Netanyahu was unseated as Israel‘s leader, in 1999, he ended his first term in office with a glass of wine in his hand and affable words of welcome to then-Labour party leader Ehud Barak, who defeated him at the polls.
“Sour, grumpy, not stately – Trump-like until the final moment,” Yossi Verter, a political affairs commentator, wrote in the left-leaning Haaretz newspaper.
Asked why there would be no such scene now, Topaz Luk, a senior aide to Netanyahu, told Army Radio: “That’s just what happens.”
Netanyahu, he said, was “filled with motivation to topple this dangerous government as quickly as possible”. Luk declined to disclose Netanyahu’s comeback strategy, pointing only to the new administration’s slim margin of support in parliament.
Luk said the incoming government was receiving briefings from Netanyahu’s diplomatic and security advisers to ensure an orderly handover.
After holding its first meeting late on Sunday, Bennett’s new cabinet was invited for a traditional group photograph, showcasing incoming governments, at the official residence of President Reuven Rivlin.
With little in common other than a desire to unseat Netanyahu, the patchwork coalition of right-wing, centrist, left-wing and Arab parties largely plans to avoid sweeping moves on hot-button issues such as policy towards the Palestinians, and to focus instead on domestic reforms.
Palestinians were unmoved by the change of administration, predicting that Bennett, a former defence chief who advocates annexing parts of the occupied West Bank, would pursue the same right-wing agenda as Netanyahu.
Under the coalition deal, Bennett, a 49-year-old Orthodox Jew and high-tech millionaire, will be replaced as prime minister in 2023 by centrist Yair Lapid, 57, a popular former television host.
U.S. President Joe Biden congratulated Bennett and Lapid, saying he looked forward to strengthening the “close and enduring” relationship between the two countries.
Addressing parliament on Sunday, Bennett put Biden on notice that he would follow in Netanyahu’s footsteps in opposing any U.S. return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal abrogated by former President Donald Trump.
Netanyahu was Israel‘s longest-serving leader, and had served consecutive terms as prime minister since 2009.
He used his global stature to resist calls for Palestinian statehood, describing it as a danger to Israel‘s security. He sought to bypass the Palestinian issue by forging diplomatic deals with regional Arab states, on the back of shared fears of Iran and its nuclear programme.
But he was a divisive figure at home and abroad, weakened by repeated failure to clinch a decisive election victory, and by a corruption trial in which he has denied any wrongdoing.
Gas pipe explosion kills 12 in China
A gas pipe explosion in a residential community in a central Chinese city killed 12 people and injured 138, state media CCTV reported Sunday.
One hundred-fifty people were evacuated following the deadly accident in the city of Shiyan in Hubei province, it said, of which 37 are critically injured.
The explosion caused a food market building to collapse at 6:30 a.m., local media reported. Footage from CCTV shows wreckage and shattered glass covering the first floor of the collapsed building, where people were having breakfast and buying groceries when explosion happened.
People can be seen walking in a rubble-strewn street between damaged buildings.
Hospitals in Shiyan are asking residents to donate blood, as the injured are still under emergency treatment, CCTV said.
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