NPR logo French President Sarkozy Physically Attacked While Shaking Hands

French President Sarkozy Physically Attacked While Shaking Hands

A scary moment for French President Nicolas Sarkozy Thursday when a man along a handshake line at a public event grabbed his shoulder and pulled hard, nearly tugging the leader of France to the ground.

Sarkozy reacted quickly and was apparently unharmed; moments later he was back to shaking hands as security officers gang-tackled and arrested his assailant, a 32-year old male.

It was just the latest reminder of the ever present potential for danger at such moments which is why presidential security teams almost always looks edgy in such situations.

The attack on a national leader by an onlooker in a crowd was reminiscent of the 2009 assault on Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi who suffered face and mouth injuries when a man in a crowd threw a souvenir statuette that hit him in the face.