Youth wrestled to ground after slapping French ex-PM Manuel Valls

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls gestures after delivering a speech to announce his bid to become the Socialist presidential candidate in the 2017 presidential elections, at the town hall of Evry, south of Paris, on Dec 5, 2016.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls gestures after delivering a speech to announce his bid to become the Socialist presidential candidate in the 2017 presidential elections, at the town hall of Evry, south of Paris, on Dec 5, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (REUTERS) - A youth slapped former prime minister Manuel Valls when he was on an election tour in France's Brittany region on Tuesday (Jan 17) and was wrestled to the ground by a security guard, video showed.

Valls, 54, was walking past a group of people in the town of Lamballe after coming out of its municipal offices. He appeared to first shake hands with the youth before the latter shouted:"This is Bretagne!" and reached out to slap the ex-premier.

As Valls recoiled, a security guard seized the youth in a choke-hold, pushed him back against a fence and then forced him to the ground, a video aired by local newspaper Le Telegramme showed. Police said later the 18-year-old man was in custody.

There is an extreme right-wing local political group in Brittany, a region in France's far northwest, but it was unclear if the detained man was politically motivated, a local prosecutor said.

Valls, a Socialist who is running in the Left's primaries on Sunday to be a candidate for president, did not appear to have been hurt in the incident. He continued shaking hands, telling the crowd, "it's nothing," another video showed.

Valls told local reporters later: "I have never been afraid to have contact with the French people. Democracy can never mean violence."