Students forced to chant 'Long live Sarkozy'

Parents complain children being used as 'propaganda tools' by Nicolas Sarkozy as he launches presidential bid

The French president has caused an outcry after dozens of infant school children were forced to chant 'Long Live Sarkozy!' when he visited their school.

Parents complained about the youngsters being used as 'propaganda tools' after they were made to treat French President Nicolas Sarkozy as a hero.

Perfect photo-op: Last week, French President Nicolas Sarkozy visited
Residence du Regard in Mennecy near Paris and posed with workers. He
was later accused of bussing in dozens of fake black workers to make
him look more popular. File pic/afp

"Our children were given little red, white and blue flags and told to shout out 'Long Live Sarkozy!'" said Cyril Atlan, whose son attended Sarkozy's visit to Lavaur in south west France, on February 7.

The children were forced to line the steps of the town hall, said Atlan, who said parents were given no say in the matter. As is often the case with Sarkozy's 'photo opportunities', he was made to look a lot taller with children as young as five surrounding him.

Coralie Lestrade, a parent, said, "They not only used our children without authorisation, but very specific recommendations were given to the children. These included that they should behave themselves, stand in line, shout 'Sarkozy, Sarkozy'. "

But Joseph Dalla Riva, the deputy mayor of the town, insisted that there was 'no manipulation', and that the children were simply taking part in a 'historic' and 'exceptional' day.

Last week, Sarkozy was accused of bussing in dozens of fake black workers to make him look more 'popular and inclusive' during a tour of a building site near Paris. He has often been accused of busing in extras to improve his image.

Three years ago, the head of state banned all tall people from stage because he did not want to look short.

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