Written by Staff Writer, CNN
Henry Maillaud is a French politician. As far as some Brits are concerned, he is also a menace.
On Thursday night, the far-right National Front’s (FN) candidate for French president — also known as FN leader Marine Le Pen — touched off a political storm during a campaign rally in Tulle. She was trying to reassure the mostly young crowd when security intervened to hand her another protester – a middle-aged man who tried to grab her by the neck.
According to an eyewitness, the man was screaming in French “you’re not coming to dinner, young woman!” and kept trying to pull her head closer, despite security personnel repeatedly pushing him away. “The clash was like a boxing match,” Guillaume Heneilaine, a journalist for France’s Total Info News Service told the AFP news agency, adding that the pair were wrestling on the ground.
The incident, which occurred around 8:30 p.m. local time, ended when a young woman grabbed the protester’s arm to prevent him from grabbing Le Pen. The security staff, including two policemen, tried to hold him back for a few minutes before arresting him.
The protester was identified as Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who has been campaigning for months on a platform to overthrow French politics. He told the magazine Nouvel Observateur that he had to intervene because Le Pen was not protecting herself.
This was not the first time an FN political figure has been in danger of getting the snare at campaign rallies. In 2016, Le Pen narrowly escaped a shark that had been swallowed up by the fish-topped stage at a campaign event. And a self-described “knife woman” threw a javelin at Le Pen as she sat in the audience of a congress in 2015.