PARIS—A man who slapped French President Emmanuel Macron during a visit to a small town in southern France this week was sentenced to 4 months in prison on Thursday.
A French court in Valence, in southeast France, handed down an 18-month sentence, with 14 months suspended, French television reported. The court ordered the man to be imprisoned immediately, a particularly tough punishment in France, where defendants are often allowed to remain free while they appeal a sentence.
During a hearing at the court Thursday, the man admitted to slapping Mr. Macron, French media reported. He said he was acting on behalf of the antiestablishment yellow vests movement, which arose in 2018 in opposition to Mr. Macron’s policies. He described his political views as far-right, French news channel BFMTV reported.
The man’s lawyer didn’t respond to a request for comment.
At a press conference Thursday, Mr. Macron played down the incident.
“I think that there are many citizens who are tired of the epidemic, that there are among some of our fellow citizens fear, doubt, anxiety, the consequences of loneliness,” Mr. Macron said. “I won’t tell you that I sense widespread social violence, that’s not true.”
On Tuesday, Mr. Macron jogged toward a small, cheering crowd standing behind a barrier in the town of Tain-l’Hermitage on the Rhone river, according to two videos broadcast on French television. Mr. Macron leaned in for a greeting, placing one hand on the arm of a man wearing a green T-shirt.
The man then shouted, “Montjoie Saint-Denis! Down with Macrony!” as he wound up and slapped Mr. Macron’s face, causing the president’s head to jerk to one side.
Mr. Macron’s security service quickly intervened, pushing the man to the ground and pulling the president away. “Montjoie Saint-Denis” is a royal battle cry that dates back to the 11th or 12th century. It is used in France as a motto by some far-right groups that express nostalgia for the French monarchy. “Macrony” is a term used by the president’s opponents to describe Mr. Macron and his allies.
Write to Matthew Dalton at Matthew.Dalton@wsj.com
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