French first lady Brigitte Macron on Tuesday denounced an attack on her great-nephew, who was beaten up outside her family's chocolate shop in an apparent politically motivated assault.
Jean-Baptiste Trogneux was returning to his apartment on Monday evening above the famed Trogneux chocolate shop that he runs in Amiens in northern France, when he was set upon by anti-government protesters.
The 30-year-old was hit on the head, arms and legs by his aggressors, who insulted "the president, his wife and our family" before running away, the victim's father, Jean-Alexandre Trogneux, told AFP on Tuesday.
"They've crossed the line. I'm flabbergasted," Trogneux added, saying his son was being checked by a doctor and was awaiting the results of a scan.
Brigitte Macron issued a rare statement condemning the "cowardice, stupidity and violence" of the attack.
"I am in complete solidarity with my family and have been in touch constantly since 11 pm yesterday," she added.
"I have on several occasions denounced this kind of violence that can only lead to the worst."
Local police said they had arrested eight people after the attack, which took place shortly after President Emmanuel Macron appeared on the country's main television news programme at 8:00 pm (1800 GMT) on Monday evening.
Brigitte Macron's family have run the Jean Trogneux chocolate shop in the centre of her home city of Amiens for six generations, specialising in a sugary local almond-based treat known as the Amiens Macaron.
She met her husband while he was a pupil and she was a teacher at a private school in the city in the 1990s.
- 'Boycotts' -
The Trogneux family business, which has expanded around northern France, has been repeatedly targeted by protesters during Macron's six years in power amid rumours -- repeatedly denied -- that the first family have a financial interest in the company.
"The shop is not involved in politics," Jean-Alexandre Trogneux told the Courrier Picard local newspaper on Tuesday. "Emmanuel Macron has got nothing to do with our business.
"I don't understand all these people who continue to hassle us. Some of them even call for boycotts of our shops and products. They're getting everything mixed up."
Macron has sparked the biggest demonstrations in a generation this year over reforms to the pension system, which include raising the retirement age from 62 to 64 later this year.
Repeated clashes during protests, as well as attacks on the offices of local and national elected figures, have sparked debate about whether the country is growing more intolerant and prone to violence.
During protests in April, a fire was started at one of Macron's favourite restaurants in Paris, the upmarket La Rotonde brasserie, before it was quickly put out by firefighters.
Last week, the mayor of a village in western France announced his resignation after a suspected arson attack on his home, causing an outcry among fellow politicians.
Yannick Morez, from the village of Saint Brevin, had been repeatedly targeted by far-right activists over his support for a local centre for refugees.
Brigitte Macron was left shaken when she and her husband were surrounded and verbally abused by so-called "Yellow Vest" protesters in 2020 as they walked in the Tuileries gardens near the presidential palace.
Interior ministry statistics showed that reported acts of physical or verbal violence against lawmakers increased by 32 percent year-on-year in 2022, when the country held parliamentary and presidential elections.
"Worse and worse. And now the family of the president," ruling party lawmaker Karl Olive wrote on Twitter.
© Agence France-Presse
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