On Thursday, French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, was harassed by a large crowd of protesters during his re-election campaign trip in Bayonne, a city in the North Basque country.
Protesters and Basque nationalists booed and threatened the incumbent President prompting riot police to protect Sarkozy by moving him into the café, Bar du Palais. The police subsequently barred entrance into the bar for about an hour while Sarkozy took refuge.
While Sarkozy was inside the café, the protesters threw eggs and stones at the riot police line.
Despite Sarkozy's experience with protests, the vehement attitude and violent actions in Bayonne were quite the surprise.
Emerging from the café, an upset Sarkozy reprimanded the inappropriate and unacceptable behavior of the protesters.
Here, we are in France. We are on the territory of the French Republic, and the president of the French Republic will go wherever he wishes on the territory of the French Republic. And if that does not please a minority of hoodlums, they will have to deal.
The French President has trailed behind Socialist candidate Francois Hollande in the polls. The Ifop poll shows Hollande ahead at 28.5 percent and Sarkozy at 27 percent.
Hollande's supporters mixed with the Basque separatists prompted Sarkozy to express his disappointment in socialist alliances.
I am disappointed to see that socialist supporters of Mr. Hollande would associate themselves with separatists in violent protests to terrorize good citizens who had only one wish, which was to meet me and speak with me, Sarkozy added.
The Basque nationalists have been protesting for independence of the Basque country since the early 20th century. Joining Socialist followers in protesting against Sarkozy's campaign visit could simply be seen as another Basque independence protest.
I have not in five years surrendered once to the pressure of the streets. It's certainly not here and now, in front of Basque separatists, that I will begin to do so, said Sarkozy.
By Thursday evening, Hollande had delivered a speech encouraging his supporters to reject violent means and verbal abuses.
Sarkozy's campaign spokeswoman, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, also urged that the opposing side respect the rules of democratic debate.