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France

Man arrested for insulting Sarkozy

media French president Nicolas Sarkozy visits the suburb of Bobigny in November … Reuters

Police arrested a young man for insulting French president Nicolas Sarkozy during the leader's surprise visit to a working-class housing estate of La Courneuve in Saint-Denis, near Paris, on Thursday. A court official said the 21-year-old was hurt and bruised during his arrest and that he would appear before a judge on Friday.

The official did not provide details of the insult the man is alleged to have made.

The exchange marks the latest of the unfriendly receptions that befall Sarkozy upon visits to the outskirts of big cities.

Last month, a boy threw a plastic bottle at the president at a school in Beauvais, north of Paris. Sarkozy was there to discuss violence in French schools.

In June 2005, when he was interior minister, Sarkozy offended residents of La Courneuve when he pledged to "clean it out with a power hose", following a fatal shooting.

Four months later, riots erupted in suburbs of Paris and other French cities, following the death of two youths fleeing from police.

The violence was partly explained by bad relations between authorities and locals in areas home to large immigrant populations.
 

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