Sarkozy's a knock-out with voters

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The Independent Online

President Nicolas Sarkozy was grabbed and almost knocked to the ground yesterday at a public appearance in Brax in south-west France.

Mr Sarkozy, 55, seemed shaken but was not harmed and continued his walkabout as security officials detained a 32-year-old local man. French television showed the President reaching over a metal barricade to greet onlookers when a hand grabbed his suit roughly by the shoulder, pulling it towards the crowd.

He then appeared to lose his balance and fall, before recoiling and just managing to stay upright.

Protection officers stepped in to surround him, while four plain-clothes agents behind the barrier grabbed the assailant and wrestled him to the ground.

The incident, which comes 18 months after Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was struck in the face with a statuette in Milan, will raise questions about Mr Sarkozy's security.

Earlier this year it was reported that officials planned to use a £10,000 bullet-proof umbrella to shield Mr Sarkozy from assassination attempts after polls suggested he was the most unpopular head of state in recent French history. He has a record of arguing with hecklers.