Damien Tarel, the man who slapped French President Macron, is a medieval role player and a fan of anime, with one source describing him as “a bit of a gamer.”
On Tuesday, a video went viral of Tarel, a then unidentified man in the crowd, slapping President Macron in the face during a visit to the small town of Tain-l’Hermitage, just outside the city of Valence in the south-east of France:
After Macron gets close to the barriers, he begins talking to a man in a green shirt, and holds onto his left arm for a moment. The man in the green shirt then slapped Macron with his right hand across his face, as the French President is then dragged away by security who also pile onto the attacker. Following being slapped and the man arrested, Macron then returns to the crowd to greet people… [Tarel] shouted “down with Macron-ism” during the incident, as well as “Montjoie, Saint-Denis,” the battle cry of the ancient Kingdom of France, the slogan of which is on the banner of King Charlemagne.
— Disclose.tv 🚨 (@disclosetv) June 8, 2021
After Tarel and his friend, only identified as Arthur C, were arrested following the incident, police searched his home, and found a plethora of uncommon items. The Macron-slapper’s possessions included imitation weapons, a Soviet flag, a copy of Mein Kampf, fantasy novels, manga (Japanese comic books often incorrectly referred to as anime), and “military simulation” games – one source close to the investigation said that Tarel was “a bit lost, a bit geeky, and a bit of a gamer.”
News reports have added that Tarel is also very much interested in medieval re-enactments, often referred to as “Live Action Roleplay,” or “LARPing,” with many of the weapons discovered in his house likely being linked to his hobby, rather than any desire for violence. The source told Le Parisien that he “lives in a kind of parallel world made of role-playing games, simulations of medieval fights.”
The investigation into the slapping of Macron initially focused on the idea that Tarel and his friends were “anarchists,” after he had described himself as such to a journalist at some point during the day. However, police now are looking into his views being more of “an ideological mush,” after the investigation into his flat and finding out that he followed both hard right and left wing channels on YouTube.
Tarel has been charged with “wilful violence against a person holding public authority.” If convicted, he could face up to three years in prison and a fine of €45,000 ($54,800). His friend faces the same charge, despite only shouting at Macron.