Éric Zemmour’s first presidential campaign rally did not go to plan. The far-right firebrand was violently attacked by counter-demonstrators wearing t-shirts featuring anti-racism slogans. On Sunday, Zemmour unveiled his new political party, Reconquête, at the Zenith arena in Paris.
Zemmour – who last week was accused by several women of sexual assault, he denies the allegations – was placed in a headlock by an assailant, despite being surrounded by bodyguards. Doctors have ordered the 63-year-old to rest after sustaining an injury to his wrist.
A spokesman told Le Figaro newspaper that the campaign team will be filing a legal complaint. They also praised Zemmour for his “courage”. The incident has since been reported to the police and is currently under investigation.
Many – including critics of the former broadcaster – condemned the violence and noted that this is not the first time a French politician has been assaulted in public. In June, on a visit to southern France, Emmanuel Macron was slapped in the face by a protester. And in 2017, Marie Le Pen was attacked on stage while giving a speech to National Front delegates.
The incident with Zemmour will intensify concerns about the safety of candidates ahead of next year’s general election. As campaigning gets underway, French politics is highly volatile and potentially explosive.