Nicolas Sarkozy takes shelter from egg-throwing mob
Nicolas Sarkozy was forced to hide in a bar after protestors threatened to beat him up during a campaign trip.
By Peter Allen, Paris
11:08AM GMT 02 Mar 2012
The 57-year-old French president, who is standing for re-election in April, was campaigning in the Basque country, in the south west.
Eggs and stones were thrown at the 5ft 5ins head of state, who at one stage looked as though he would disappear under a crowd of people in the city of Bayonne.
His security staff instead ushered him into a bar, where the teetotal president had to drink coffee for more than hour while riot police dispersed the protesters.
"The protestors said they wanted to beat him up – they said they wanted him to resign," said an eye-witness.
"He looked very concerned indeed. Sarkozy is used to angry crowds, but this one was very threatening."
When Mr Sarkozy emerged from the Bar du Palais after around an hour he appeared shaken, describing those who had baited him as "hooligans".
Many were Basque separatists who resent having to abide by laws from Paris.
Following the incident on Thursday afternoon, Mr Sarkozy denounced "the violence of a minority and their unacceptable behaviour", adding: "Here, we’re in France, on the territory of the French Republic. The President of the Republic will go where he likes, and if that doesn't please a minority of troublemakers, too bad for them."
Opinion polls regularly show that Mr Sarkozy is by far the most unpopular head of state in the history of modern France.
He is widely expected to lose the April/May election to Socialist candidate Francois Hollande.