Assault On Emmanuel Macron: French President Not The Only One To Get A ‘Tight-Slap’ On Face, Here Are Others

French President Emmanuel Macron has joined the list of world leaders who were attacked by the public.  

On June 8, a bystander slapped Emmanuel Macron in the face in the village of Tain-l’Hermitage in southeast France. The 43-year-old President was on a nationwide tour when the incident happened.

According to local officials, two people involved in the incident were immediately apprehended and a further probe is on.

According to BBC, the attacker was heard shouting, “Down with Macron-ism” as he slapped the president, as well as “Montjoie, Saint-Denis” — the battle-cry of the old Kingdom of France, in reference to the banner of King Charlemagne.

The identity and the motive of the attacker are yet to be ascertained.

Calling it an “isolated event”, Macron later said, “We must not let ultra-violent people take over the public debate: they do not deserve it.”

Last October, President Macron had courted controversy by his remarks on Islam. He defended the freedom of expression in France.

“We will continue… We will defend the freedom that you taught so well and we will bring secularism”, he had in the wake of the beheading of the school teacher Samuel Paty.

The incident renewed the row over the publication of cartoons of Prophet Muhammad in the French magazine, Charlie Hebdo.

Macron had then expressed concerns over rising radicalism in France and made attempts to assuage the fears of the Muslims. In an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera last year, Macron said, “I understand the sentiments being expressed and I respect them. But you must understand my role right now, it’s to do two things: to promote calm and also to protect these rights”.

However, he added that he would fight “radical Islam” which, he said, is a threat to all people, especially Muslims.

Macron’s statement drew criticism from Islamic nations such as Turkey and Pakistan with some organizations calling for a boycott of French products.

In his speech made during an announcement to bring out legislation to reform the 1905 French law, Macron commented, “Islam is a religion that is in crisis all over the world today, we are not just seeing this in our country.”

Denouncing Macron’s attitude towards Islam, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, “What is the problem of this person called Macron with Muslims and Islam? Macron needs treatment on a mental level”.

Pakistan PM Imran Khan also expressed his displeasure over Macron’s comments on Islam. In April, Pakistan was rocked by violent protests by radical elements who demanded the expulsion of the French ambassador to the country.

Pakistani radical outfit Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) had a set April 20 deadline for the Imran Khan government to expel the French envoy.

Here are some other world leaders who were attacked by the public.

Nawaz Sharif, 2021

Geo News reported an attack on the former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in London by four unidentified men.

Sharif’s party PML-N condemned the attack and alleged that assailants tried breaking into the office of Hassan Nawaz, Sharif’s son, with the intention of attacking the ex-PM. In a statement to The Express Tribune, PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif said, “It is highly reprehensible, shameful and alarming that goons forcibly entered Hassan Nawaz’s office in London with the intention of attacking him. Thank God that Quaid Muhammad Nawaz Sharif remained safe in the attack”.

Shehbaz demanded a thorough investigation into the ‘vicious attack’ on the party supremo, who has been in London apparently for medical treatment.

Scott Morrison, 2019

A similar incident made headlines two years ago when a woman named Amber Paige Holt reportedly threw an egg at Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison at an election function in Albury. Consequently, Holt was banned from attending any political events.

The Guardian reported Australian Police alleging that Holt intended to embarrass Morrison, and not harm him.

Holt eventually apologized to the Country Women’s Association (CWA) for the unfortunate incident. She repented her actions calling them ‘stupid and selfish’. She even encouraged people to not follow suit, reported 9News. She added that she and her family had faced abuses and threats since the incident.

Holt claimed that the purported egg attack was intended to bring attention to the plight of asylum seekers on Manus Island.

Jair Bolsonaro, 2018

While campaigning in the 2018 election, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro was stabbed by a member of the public, according to AFP. While Bolsonaro quickly recovered, his attacker — who said he was “on a mission from God” — was sent to a mental hospital.

Bolsonaro was reported to be taken to the hospital in the town of Juiz de Fora after being stabbed. He had to be carried through a crowd on the shoulders of a supporter.

According to The Guardian, videos showing him clutching his abdomen and crying out in pain, were shared on social media.

Adélio Bispo de Oliveira, the suspect, was being taken into police custody with local media confirming that he was beaten up by Bolsonaro supporters.

Silvia Berlusconi, 2009

Former Italian premier Silvia Berlusconi was attacked in Milan with a metal replica of its cathedral in 2009 after a rally, AFP reported. Berlusconi, 73 at the time, lost two teeth and had his nose broken.

Berlusconi was reportedly knocked to the ground by a man while the leader was among the general public signing and shaking hands.

His aides quickly intervened and escorted him into the car. He was taken to  Milan’s San Raffaele hospital where he was kept under observation for 24 hours, reported The Guardian.

A hospital spokesman said, Berlusconi was ‘very shaken and demoralized’.

The 2009 incident was not the first physical blow on his face. The Guardian reported the Italian Premier had been physically attacked before at a Rome rally in 2004.

George W. Bush, 2008

Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi hurled his shoes at the then US President George W. Bush at a news conference held in Baghdad in 2008. Bush was on a farewell visit to Iraq before he vacated office. He defended the US invasion of Iraq at the conference saying it was necessary for ‘world peace’, reported The Washington Post.

Bush handled the incident with dignity and laughed it away. He said, “All I can report is a size 10”.

Rajiv Gandhi, 1987

Former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi came under attack when Sri Lankan Sinhala Navy soldier Vijitha Rohana Wijemuni charged at him with a rifle butt in 1987. Consequently, the sailor was court-martialled and jailed for his rogue behavior. The late Rajiv Gandhi was on a visit to Colombo to sign the Indo-Lankan Peace Accord.

Compiled by Kanika Sachdeva