French police say the man who slapped French President Emmanuel Macron in the face is 28-year-old Damien Tarel. Al Jazeera reports that Tarel had no previous criminal record.
Police say that Tarel and a second man remained in police custody on Wednesday. He is to be charged with assaulting a public figure, and is expected to receive a maximum three-year prison sentence as well as a 45 000 euro ($55 000) fine.
Macron has been on a tour of France before the next presidential election. He was slapped in the face on Tuesday as he greeted a small crowd of onlookers in southern France. A video, in which Tarel can be seen delivering the now famous slap, then shouting “Down with Macronia”, went viral following the incident.
Acquaintances in his hometown of Saint-Vallier, in southeastern France, described Tarel as a man who loved period role-play and who was not a trouble maker. Tarel managed a ‘historical European martial arts’ club, which included traditional swordsmanship. He had also created a board game club called “The Knights of the Square Table”. Friends have described him as “a decent person, ready to help neighbours.”
According to Al Jazeera, Macron has been previously targeted. In 2016, while serving as Minister of Economics, trade unionists pelted him with eggs. Then in 2018, he was aggressively heckled by anti-government protesters.
Macron is to continue to greet crowds during his tour.
Umm Muhammed Umar