French President Emmanuel Macron caused a stir in the French public, after posing for photos with two young men, one of whom was showing a middle finger to the camera.
This happened during Macron’s visit to Saint Martin, the Caribbean island, which was left in shambles after hurricane Irma in 2017.
The French leader was followed by numerous photographers while walking for five hours in sporadic rain, entering homes and talking to the locals about their life and rebuilding after the 2017 tragedy.
A video was posted on Twitter of Macron asking a Antilles woman to take a picture with him, however she refuses and shrugs him off.
— Politikḗ (@city_affairs) September 29, 2018
His visit also went wrong when he came across two bare-chested young men, wearing bandanas. One of them told Macron that he was a “robber” and was recently released from prison. Unfazed, the President told him that he should leave his criminal past behind and take part in the reconstruction of the island.
En visite à Saint-Martin, Emmanuel Macron fait la morale à un jeune braqueur pic.twitter.com/f3WOjRtAfr
— BFMTV (@BFMTV) September 30, 2018
Following their exchange, he hugged the men and posed for a picture, while one of them showed a middle finger.
Opposition members instantly used the photo to embarrass Macron and use it against him.
On ne trouve même plus de mots pour exprimer notre indignation.
La France ne mérite certainement pas cela. C’est impardonnable ! MLP pic.twitter.com/Lvf2k8cO8S
— Marine Le Pen (@MLP_officiel) September 30, 2018
Responses on Twitter also included criticism that people on the island need help, not selfies.
— Chris (@Stof_ChriS) September 30, 2018
Non mais Julien, le scandale il n'est pas du tout là dedans, il est sur la photo !
— Marc Philippe (@1marcphilippe) September 30, 2018
The French President defended his actions by claiming that he wishes to help all of the Saint Martin youth. “I love every child of the Republic, no matter how stupid he is,” he explained, cited by RT.
Irma became the most devastating hurricane to hit Saint Martin in over a century, with the damage to the French side of the island estimated at over $1.4 billion by Paris.
Emmanuel Macron is no stranger to controversial photos, after in June 2018 he posed with scantily clad dancers, just days after chiding a schoolboy for calling him “Manu,” instead of “Mr. President” or “sir.”
La fête de la musique à l'Elysée. J'ai honte… pic.twitter.com/P7T754ujoP
— Antoine Mellies (@AntoineMellies) June 22, 2018
During the French “Day of Music” festival, the performance of DJ Kiddy Smile and his troupe of dancers that attracted the most attention. The artist, who is an emerging LGBT icon, took to the stage wearing a provocative shirt, while his dancers were voguing on the palace steps. Macron posed for a photograph with the scantily clad crew afterwards.
Many comments on Twitter were positive, but opposition once again leaped at the chance to embarrass the President.
This adds to the previous Benalla scandal, in which Macron’s bodyguard was posing with a gun, alongside several people, with the weapon pointed at a woman in the center of the picture.
En pleine présidentielle, Benalla dégaine son arme pour un selfie https://t.co/Y5BdHnE4tc
— Mediapart (@Mediapart) September 24, 2018
It was reportedly taken at a restaurant after a meeting with the president-to-be in the city of Poitiers in western France on April 28, 2017, less than a month before the final round of the presidential election.
Macron recently spoke at the UNGA on September 25th. He spoke against US isolationism and claimed that he was ready to take up the mantle of global leader, a seat usually filled by a US leader. His speech followed US President Donald Trump’s ridiculed proclamations, which included claims that his country will partake in less international agreements and initiatives. Something Macron spoke strongly against, saying that, despite cooperative work being challenging, it will definitely pay out in the end.