President Macron poses with man showing his middle finger in Caribbean
Photo of President Macron posing between a half-naked man showing his middle finger and a convicted criminal during Caribbean visit sparks fury back home in France
- President Macron posed with two young men during visit to Saint Martin
- One showed his middle finger, the other told Macron he was a convicted criminal
- Macron told him to leave his past behind and help re-build his home island
- President was visiting one year after hurricanes devastated the West Indies
- He has been fiercely criticised for the posed-up photo on social media
President Emmanuel Macron has come under fire for posing for a photograph with a two young men during his visit to the Caribbean last week – one of whom made a rude gesture, and the other who is a convicted robber.
The photo sparked social media outrage, with far-right leader Marine Le Pen calling it ‘unforgivable’, while more mainstream critics settling for ’embarrassing’.
President Macron however remained defiant, stating that he loved ‘every child of the Republic, whatever stupidities they commit’.
The incident took place just a few months after he chastised a French teenager for greeting him as ‘Manu’ – a common nickname for Emmanuel – instead of ‘Sir’ or ‘Mr President’.
Critique: The photo was taken during President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to Saint Martin last week, and shows Macron with two young men either side of him making gestures
Right-wing anger: Far-right politician Marine Le Pen called Macron’s photograph with the two young men ‘unforgivable’
The photo, taken on Saturday, shows Macron smiling widely, while the topless man on the left is showing his middle finger to the camera.
The man on the right, seen wearing a bandana, had told Macron that he had recently been released from prison after serving time for robbery.
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Macron told him he should leave his criminal past behind – ‘the robberies are over’ – and start anew by helping rebuild his island in the wake of the hurricane.
After being attacked for the photograph, Macron told a press conference he refused to do a mea culpa.
Anger: Macron was attacked over the photo by several Twitter users
Commanding respect: In June, President Macron told a chastised a teenager for greeting him as ‘Manu’ – a common nickname for Emmannel – instead of ‘Sir’ or ‘Mr President’
‘No more robberies’: President Macron spoke to the young convict, telling him he should leave his criminal past behind and help rebuild the French Caribbean island of Saint Martin
Sorry, not sorry: The President refused to apologise for the photo with the young men, saying ‘I love every child of the French Republic, whatever stupidities they commit’
Support: Macron was visiting the island which is still struggling to rebuild following Hurricane Irma last year
He said he would not apologise for reaching out to all French citizens no matter their background.
‘The reasons I fought to be elected instead of Marine Le Pen and that I am here today is because I love all of the republic’s children, whatever their past troubles,’ Macron shot back Sunday.
Defending the two young men who posed with him, Macron said they had carried a handicapped girl to meet him after the picture was taken.
They were ‘capable of doing that because I showed confidence in them, because I respected them. That’s our republic,’ he said.
Macron visited the Caribbean last week, one year after hurricanes devastated the French West Indies.
Making friends: Macron takes sefies with children in Quartier d’Orleans, on the French Caribbean island of Saint-Martin this weekend
The French president walked for five hours, sometimes through the rain, as he spoke to local people about the impact of the deadly storm on the island, which is still far from repairing all the devastation.
Mr Macron was fulfilling a pledge to return to Saint Martin one year after making his first trip in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Irma in September 2017.
Some families on Saint Martin, where Hurricane Irma killed 15 people before continuing on its deadly path towards Cuba and Florida, are still living with no more than tarpaulins over their roofs as a new storm season gets underway.
Just 40 percent of property owners on the French side were insured, and the island’s sole deep water port is functioning at just 40 percent capacity, making it slow to bring in building materials.
Despite an intensive campaign, wrecked cars remain by the roadsides, while rubble and other debris are still piled up everywhere.
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