The slap of French President Emmanuel Macron in the face during a trip to the Drôme region, on Tuesday, 8 June, is still causing a lot of discussion inside and outside France, where a video of the incident was seen in different regions of the world.
“Down with the macaroni,” shouted the person who slapped Macron, before security personnel quickly intervened to remove Macron and put the man to the ground.
And the last slap was not the first of its kind for Macron. When he was Minister of Economy, he was hit by anti-white protesters in Montreux on 6 June 2016.
“This incident must be put in context, this is an isolated incident,” the French president told the local newspaper, Ludovin Lieber.
The accused and his friend
The police arrested the slapper, whose name is Damien Tarrell, 28, who lives in Saint-Vallier, Drome, and has no criminal record.
Damien, who is the president of the European Union for Martial Arts, shows his passion for equestrianism in a photo posted on Instagram, dressed as a knight with a sword next to him.
His passion is explained by what he said in the video “Montgua Saint-Denis!”, a rallying cry for the French royal armies.
He also cares about the views of the royalists and follows a number of right-wing extremists on social media, and is said to be associated with the yellow vest movement, without being a member of any party or activity.
The second person who was arrested by the police for filming the video of the incident is a friend named Arthur C.
Security services say they found “weapons” in his home, including pistols, historical gunpowder, rifles and a sword, as well as Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” book.
Al Jazeera Net contacted the investigation police in the city of Drom, and indicated – briefly – that the investigation is still ongoing to find out the motives for the attack and that the accused are under arrest and under surveillance.
Thus, the final sentence has not yet been determined, and it is expected that the defendants will be tried on Thursday.
45 thousand euros
Today, Thursday, the attacker appears before the Valence Public Prosecutor’s Office, Alex Perrin, to stand trial on charges of violence against a person holding public authority.
As for the second suspect, he will not be tried for the facts committed against Emmanuel Macron, but will be summoned to court next year to be held accountable for “crimes related to illegal possession of weapons,” according to the public prosecutor.
It should be noted that the National Assembly abolished the charge of “insulting the head of state” in 2013, after the European Court of Human Rights condemned France for using the charge.
French lawyer Alexandre Ondre told Al Jazeera Net that what happened is considered violence that can happen to any ordinary person.
According to Article 222-13 of the Penal Code, “violence resulting from the inability to work for a period of less than eight days or its equivalent shall be punished by imprisonment for 3 years and a fine of 45,000 euros when committed.”
If it is proven that the person has used alcohol, this will be a third aggravating circumstance, in which case the term of imprisonment may reach 7 years and a fine of 100,000 euros.
In practice, however, it is not certain that the suspect, if tried and convicted, would be punished with such severe punishment.
Some in the French street say that his detention may last a few days and then be released so that President Macron does not receive unnecessary criticism.
And the entire political class reacted to the slap in the face of Emmanuel Macron.
“Politics cannot be violence, verbal aggression, or even physical aggression in any way,” Prime Minister Jan Casteks said. “We are all involved, and it comes down to the foundations of our democracy.”
Far-right leader Marine Le Pen criticized the incident, along with Fabien Roussel, the National Secretary of the French Communist Party, Senate President Gerard Larcher, Socialist Party head Olivier Faure and former President Francois Hollande.
Emmanuel Macron has preceded other presidents or candidates for the Elysee who have been subjected to verbal or physical attack in recent years, and it can be said that Nicolas Sarkozy took the largest share.
On June 30, 2011, a 32-year-old municipal employee grabbed the jacket of President Sarkozy who was saluting the residents of the French town of Brac.
He later admitted that he wanted to tell the head of state that he had to “listen to the people who elected him.” He received a 6-month suspended sentence. A year earlier, Sarkozy was verbally attacked by a 21-year-old during his visit to La Courneuve, swearing at him, “Go fuck you idiot, you’re here in my area.”
The man was injured while being arrested by the police and sentenced to 35 hours of community service for insulting the head of state and the police.
In 2007, angry fishermen organized protests over rising diesel prices during Sarkozy’s visit to Gelvinec, and one of them insulted him and did not hesitate to jump over the barrier towards the president before he was arrested by the security services. But he was not tried in the end.
On July 14, 2002, former French President Jacques Chirac survived an assassination attempt by Maxime Bruner, 25, who was carrying a rifle hidden in a guitar case during the presidential parade on the Champs Elysees on the occasion of National Day.
The bullet did not reach the president and Bruneri was sentenced in December 2004 to 10 years in prison, then released in August 2009.
In one media outlet, he said he wanted to do something “historic”.
On March 4 of the same year, President Jacques Chirac was “spit” in the Mont-la-Jolie region when he was on the second round on the issue of security during his presidential campaign.
Other politicians were also subjected to similar cases of abuse, such as former Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who was a candidate in the left-wing primaries at the time, and was “slapped” on January 17, 2017 in Brittany by a young man who was sentenced to 3 months in prison.
Valls commented on this, saying, “There are always those who try to prevent democracy from expressing itself.”
In Strasbourg, a man dumped a bag of flour on the head and coat of former Prime Minister Francois Fillon, saying “49.3 do not forget,” referring to Article 49.3 of the constitution that Valls used six times to pass the Macron and Labor Acts without a vote by deputies.
In 2002, presidential candidate and prime minister Lionel Jospin was sprayed with ketchup by two young men before the speech was canceled in Rennes.
The date of the slap
The slap turned into a crime symbolizing humiliation, and this concept appeared in the era of the Roman Republic.
Then this concept turned into a “crime” for insulting the person of the head of state to be included in 1881 in Article 26 of the Freedom of the Press Act.
During the rule of General Charles de Gaulle, 350 people, mostly journalists and writers, were sentenced in 9 years.
About 59 years ago, General de Gaulle, then President of the Republic, narrowly escaped the Petit Clamart attack on July 3, 1962, the same year in which the Evian Agreement was signed to formalize Algeria’s independence.