STRASBOURG – A young man threw flour in the face of French rightwing presidential candidate Francois Fillon on Thursday at a campaign event, international media reported.

Fillon, 63, who is also former prime minister, is facing protests in recent weeks following charges that accused him of giving a fake job to his wife in the Parliament against salary of hundreds of thousand of euros.

He was heading towards stage in a hall in the eastern city of Strasbourg to address the people when a man in a T-shirt pelted flour on him and chanted the slogan “Students for Fillon”.

Security guards caught the man and pushed him down to the floor tearing off the T-shirt.

Later, Fillon addressing the gathering said that  he was “the target of merciless persecution”.

“They’re doing everything they can to discourage me,” he said.

“But, my friends, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

Fillon has accused his leftwing rivals of the flour attack, which first emerged in the Canard Enchaine newspaper in January.