By Salim Yunusa
A 28-year-old man has received a four-month prison sentence after slapping French President Emmanuel Macron in the face.
Damien Tarel was also given an additional 14-month suspended sentence for the offence, which took place on Tuesday as the leader was greeting a crowd in the town of Tain-l’Hermitage in southeastern France.
Tarel was banned from ever holding public office and from owning weapons for five years.
He was quickly arrested after the slap that hit Macron’s left cheek and charged with violence against a person invested with public authority.
In court, the defendant described himself as a right-wing or extreme “patriot” and a member of the yellow vest economic protest movement that shook Mr Macron’s presidency in 2018 and 2019.
He told the court in the southeastern city of Valence that the attack was unplanned and impulsive and prompted by anger at France’s “decline”.
He was heard shouting a centuries-old royalist war cry as he struck the president
“When I saw his friendly, lying look, I felt disgust, and I had a violent reaction,” Tarel told the court. “It was an impulsive reaction… I was surprised myself by the violence.”
While he said he and his friends had considered bringing an egg or a cream pie to throw at the president, he insisted they dropped the idea and the slap was not pre-meditated.
“I think that Emmanuel Macron represents the decline of our country,” he said, without explaining what he meant.
Mr Macron was visiting the Drome region to meet restaurateurs and students to talk about how life is returning to normal amid the COVID-19 pandemic.