The man who punched Emmanuel Macron in the face yesterday is a 28-year-old medieval role-playing fan who owns a copy of Mein Kampf and lives with his mother, police have revealed.
Long-haired and bespectacled Damien Tarel was bundled to the ground by bodyguards after beating the president and shouting, “Montjoie Saint Denis,” an old Royalist war cry, “A Bas La Macronie” (“Down with Macronia”).
The serious security breach has overshadowed the start of Macron’s ‘Tour de France’, designed to gauge public opinion after a year of lockdowns, and has been condemned from across the political spectrum.
Police searched Tarel’s house where they discovered weapons, a Soviet flag, a copy of Adolf Hitler’s autobiographical manifesto, fantasy novels, Japanese comics and military simulation games.
In the immediate aftermath, a police source had claimed Tarel was an “anarchist,” but detectives are now working on the basis that he endorses some sort of “ideological mush,” the Parisian newspaper reported.
A source close to the investigation described him as someone who was “a bit lost, a bit of a geek, a bit of a gamer.”
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The attacker, named only as Damien T., is a medieval enthusiast whose social media reveals that he wears period clothes and participates in reenactments
Damien T., wearing a green t-shirt and white mask, punches Macron in the face as bodyguards intervene
French President Emmanuel Macron was punched in the face by a man during a trip to southeastern France on Tuesday, an aide said.
President is taken to safety after being beaten as his guards bundle the attacker on the ground
Macron watches his attacker as bodyguards raid to deal with the attacker
His Instagram account shows him donning armor and wielding swords, posing on hay bales in robes and a velvet beret, and wearing a helmet used in the Japanese martial art Kendo.
Tarel led a local club of martial arts enthusiasts focused on the practice of historical European martial arts, including traditional sword fighting.
A source told Le Parisien that he “lives in a kind of parallel world made up of role-playing games, simulations of medieval battles.”
He was held with his friend, Arthur C., who is the same age, and who is accused of shouting insults at Macron.
The couple traveled from their hometown of Saint-Vallier to the village of Tain-l’Hermitage, about 10 miles south along the Rhone, where Macron greeted voters.
According to L’Obs magazine, they attended a yellow vest protest in the nearby town of Valence around noon.
At some point in the day, the couple, along with another friend who has not been arrested, were approached by a journalist who asked them what they thought of the president being in town.
Tarel stands next to the man in the video who tells the reporter that he is an “anarchist” and refers to the “deterioration of France”.
He adds that he can no longer say anything and claims that the media often misinterpret such views.
On Tuesday around 1.15 pm, Tarel was seen at the barriers outside the Tain-l’Hermitage culinary school that Macron had attended.
Macron came over to greet him and appeared to stop the president for a chat, grabbing his arm before lunging with a slap and shouting ‘Down with Macronia’ (‘A Bas La Macronie’).
Damien T in armor carries a shield at a reenactment
Damien T. hugs a tree in an Instagram post. A source told Le Parisien that he “lives in a kind of parallel world made up of role-playing games, simulations of medieval battles.”
Detectives are now working on the basis that he is subscribing to some sort of ‘ideological mush’, Le Parisien newspaper reported
Bodyguards quickly grabbed the attacker and bundled him to the ground before dragging him away, while Macron was brought to safety by a member of the security service.
Seconds later, Macron returned to the barriers to say something, although it was unclear what he was saying.
Macron said he had not feared for his safety and continued to shake hands with the public after he was beaten.
In an interview with the newspaper Dauphine Libere afterwards, Macron said: “You cannot have violence or hatred, neither in speech nor in deed. Otherwise, democracy itself will be threatened.’
Sources claim that Tarel and Arthur C. are ‘marginal’ members of their local community, ‘without a job’.
Tarel follows both right-wing and left-wing YouTube channels, including those focused on Japanese Manga comic books and historical battles.
One of the channels he follows is called Media for All and is hosted by Vincent Lapierre, who rose to fame for his coverage of the 2018 Yellow Vest protests – which he openly supported.
Two people were arrested after the incident in the village of Tain-l’Hermitage in the Drôme region, where Macron had met restaurateurs and students to talk about how life is returning to normal after Covid restrictions were eased.
Another YouTuber Tarel follows is Papicito, a 35-year-old comic book fan who takes sharp stance against immigration and released a controversial video earlier this year in which he shot a “liberal” before stabbing him repeatedly. It has since been removed by YouTube.
Tarel and Arthur C. could be held for up to 48 hours before appearing in court in Valence.
They have been charged with ‘deliberate violence against a person in public authority’.
If convicted, the attacker faces up to three years in prison and a €45,000 (£38,000) fine.