It's not just Macron, public attack is not new for politicians

Filed on June 8, 2021
French President Emmanuel Macron arrives for a lunch in Valence, southeastern France. — AP

French President Macron was Emmanuel Macron was slapped across the face on Tuesday.

As French President Emmanuel Macron is slapped across the face during a walkabout, we look at other leaders who have been attacked by the public — some of whom did not come off so lightly.

Iraqi journalist Muntazer Al Zaidi grabbed world headlines in 2008 when he hurled his shoe at then US president George W. Bush, the man who ordered the 2001 invasion of his homeland.

Bush dodged the flying footwear and later joked in his memoirs: “I wish I had caught the damn thing. The guy had a pretty live arm.”

Ex-Italy premier Silvia Berlusconi was not so lucky. He lost a half litre of blood when he was attacked in Milan with a metal replica of its cathedral in 2009 after a rally.

The billionaire, 73 at the time, lost two teeth and had his nose broken, forcing him to spend long periods with his dentist and cosmetic surgeon.

Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro was stabbed while campaigning in the 2018 election. Public sympathy helped sweep the former army officer to power. While Bolsonaro quickly recovered, his attacker — who said he was “on a mission from God” — was sent to a mental hospital.

Heavyweight former German chancellor Helmut Kohl exchanged punches with demonstrators and had to be held back by his security guards after he was pelted with eggs, tomatoes and paint during a walkbout in Halle in eastern Germany in 1991.

Pugnacious former British deputy prime minister John Prescott was quick to use his fists too when he was pelted with an egg in 2001, delivering a shuddering left jab to a protesting farm worker.

A 17-year-old Australian called Will Connolly was hailed as “heroic” after he smashed an egg on the head of a far-right senator over his offensive comments about the Christchurch mosque attacks in 2019.

Fraser Anning struck back, catching the teenager — later dubbed “Eggboy” — with two swift blows to the face.

The King of Sweden and several leaders have fallen victim to cream pie or strawberry tart attacks over the years, with former Canadian prime minister Jean Chretien being hit a year before the Swedish monarch was pelted in 2001.

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch was also “pied” during a House of Commons hearing in London in 2011, with his then wife Wendi Deng slapping his attacker full in the face.

Nigel Farage, the populist British politician who helped lead the campaign for Brexit, had a banana and salted caramel milkshake poured over him while electioneering in 2019 in one of a string of “milkshaking” attacks on far-right figures.

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