The man who slapped French President Emmanuel Macron this week told a court that he made the move because Macron represented the country’s decay.
Damien Tarel, 28, said in a court appearance on Thursday that he initially planned to either throw a cream tart or an egg at Macron during the president’s Tuesday visit to the southeastern Drome region, Reuters reported.
“I think that Macron represents very neatly the decay of our country,” Tarel told the court, according to BFM TV. “If I had challenged Macron to a duel at sunrise, I doubt he would have responded.”
Macron condemned Tarel’s actions, saying that it was an isolated incident and that violence and hate were a threat to democracy, according to Reuters.
Tarel slapped Macron in the face on Tuesday during an appearance. In videos of the altercation, Macron is seen approaching a crowd of people. When he goes to shake Tarel’s hand, Tarel slaps him in the face, causing Macron’s security to pull the president back.
Tarel described himself as a medieval martial arts enthusiast and a right-wing sympathizer during his court appearance on Thursday. During the incident involving Macron, Tarel shouted “Montjoie Saint Denis,” the French army’s battle cry when the country was still a monarchy.
“It’s a patriot’s slogan,” he told the court.
The 28-year-old also told authorities that he had been close to the French antigovernment “yellow vest” protest movement. He was arrested along with another man on Tuesday.
According to Reuters, police found a copy of Adolf Hitler’s autobiographical manifesto “Mein Kampf” and a red flag with golden sickle and mortar along with weapons at the second man’s home.
The man, who was not named, will not reportedly face charges related to slapping Macron but will be tried for illegal possession of arms next year
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