A far-right French presidential hopeful got caught in the crossfire as he attended a political rally on Saturday, with his neck and necktie being grabbed by a man wearing a mask of Emmanuel Macron.
Macron is France’s President, but he is under intense pressure at home after a French prosecutor opened a probe into his alleged pay-off of a female TV journalist who alleged that he had sexually harassed her.
After the shouting and scuffles between supporters of the two candidates and the city’s council, it was contested that the alleged attacker had even been captured on camera.
Surveillance footage from a balcony by the Champs-Elysees reveals the man wearing the mask to which he knelt apparently trying to pull the neck of Marine Le Pen from a Le Pen supporter’s neck.
A video uploaded to the YouTube channel of Le Pen, the leader of the anti-immigration National Front, shows the clash started as the nationalist was talking to supporters and addressing his rival Macron.
She said: “Rescue at the main square, big cowards are protecting themselves with masks. The next confrontation is the one where I’ll be going to debate.”
Fox News’ London bureau manager Jackson West said French law stipulates that police do not have to identify the aggressor, however.
Macron, the center-right En Marche! party candidate, tweeted: “In the name of the rule of law, I ask for the truth about the events we saw today in Paris, so people understand the seriousness of these violent scenes.”
But the far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon said the man in the mask had been arrested, suggesting the video was misleading.
“Can’t there be a mask covering its face?” he asked on Twitter.
Le Pen added: “This wasn’t a lone, isolated incident at the speech, we have pictures of a short clash with several groups of thugs, linked to other terror groups, a bit like those in Berlin a few months ago.”
Le Pen hit back that the “main manifestation of hatred” in Europe was being carried out by radical Muslim groups, not anti-capitalists.
A witness said the fight started after fans of the Socialist minister Florence Parly clashed with Le Pen supporters at the rally.
Police later arrived at the Champs-Elysees to calm both sides.
Fox News’ Jackson West (@jacksonwestfox) in Paris contributed to this story.