Sarkozy involved in scuffle during handshake tour

Thu Jun 30, 2011 8:09am EDT

France's President Nicolas Sarkozy (C), Prime Minister Francois Fillon (R) and Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Land Management Minister Bruno Le Maire give chicken to journalists as they visit a poultry farm in Sable-sur-Sarthe June 28, 2011. REUTERS/Eric Feferberg/Pool

France's President Nicolas Sarkozy (C), Prime Minister Francois Fillon (R) and Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Land Management Minister Bruno Le Maire give chicken to journalists as they visit a poultry farm in Sable-sur-Sarthe June 28, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Eric Feferberg/Pool

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(Warning: Use of strong language in paragraph 5)

BRAX, France (Reuters) - French President Nicolas Sarkozy was involved in a scuffle during a handshake tour Thursday when a man grabbed him by the shoulder and tried to pull him over a crowd barrier.

Sarkozy, attending a meeting of mayors near the southern city of Toulouse, was moving down a line of residents and shaking hands when an unidentified man seized the fabric of his suit at the shoulder and yanked him aggressively.

In footage shown on several French news channels, body guards pulled the man back from the crowd and pinned him to the ground as Sarkozy, visibly shaken, looked on.

Police arrested the man, French media reported.

Sarkozy, up for a reelection battle in 10 months, was involved in several verbal altercations in the first years of his presidency, including one incident during a walkabout when he told a man to "p*** off, loser."

(Reporting by Claude Canellas and Sophie Louet, writing by Nick Vinocur)

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