Sarkozy's clash at farm show an Internet hit

Footage of French President Nicolas Sarkozy's sharp exchange with a man who refused to shake his hand at an agriculture show collected hundreds of thousands of hits on the Internet on Sunday.

Sarkozy's clash at farm show an Internet hit
Sarkozy was filmed smiling and shaking hands with visitors as he arrived on Saturday for the opening of the agriculture fair, dubbed the 'world's biggest farm' which draws an average 600,000 people to celebrate French farming.

As he moved through the crowd, Sarkozy drew near the man, who told him, 'Oh no, don't touch me.' The president, who kept smiling, responded: 'Go away, then.'

'You disgust me,' the man said.

'Go away, you bloody idiot,' Sarkozy responded.

The encounter posted on the website of the French daily Le Parisien (// had received some 330,000 hits by midday Sunday and was also featured on the popular YouTube and Dailymotion sites.

Sarkozy's office refused to comment on the incident.

It was Sarkozy's first visit to the annual farm show since his election to the presidency in May last year.

His predecessor Jacques Chirac was a popular guest at the fair, spending up to six hours touring stalls, stroking cows, tasting culinary delights and chatting with farmers in Europe's agricultural powerhouse.

In fact, he plans to visit again as a private citizen on Tuesday to underscore the importance of environmentally-friendly agriculture and African farming, according to a statement from his private foundation.

Sarkozy spent two hours at the fair on Saturday, pledging in an address to lead European talks on a new agricultural policy and to defend farmers in negotiations with the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

He then ate some ham, drank a glass of milk and chomped on an apple before returning to the Elysee.

It wasn't the first tiff Sarkozy has been involved in at a public appearance. In November, a man yelled at him from a balcony in northwestern France and Sarkozy asked him to come down.

'If I come down, I'm giving you a headbutt,' the 21-year-old said. He was eventually arrested, but was subsequently invited to be part of a delegation of fishermen who visited the presidential palace in January.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 24 Şubat 2008, 18:48