President Emmanuel Macron is facing criticism for giving a public dressing down to a teenager who cheekily called him “Manu”after it emerged the boy is hiding at home to avoid mockery at school.
Mr Macron reprimanded the boy on television this week after he shouted 'You all right, Manu?' as the 40-year-old mingled with the crowd at Mont Valérien fort near Paris.
A clip of the incident, in which Mr Macron called the boy an “idiot” and said he should call him “Monsieur” (Sir) or “Monsieur le Président” (Mr President), went viral online after the French leader posted it on his Twitter account.
But the schoolboy, who apologised and looked contrite after being upbraided, is now “in a bad way” and has become the laughing stock of his classmates, according to a French journalist tracked down the boy to his secondary school.
The reporter, Camille Crosnier from French publication Explicite, hit out at Mr Macron in a tweet, saying: “Hi @EmmanuelMacron and @Elysee, you know that I just saw the boy at his college and he is in a bad way because everyone is laughing at him?
“He is at home and does not want to talk to anyone, he is afraid that it will hurt him for the rest of high school. Have a good day.”
Coucou @EmmanuelMacron et @Elysee, vous savez que je viens de voir le jeune garçon à son collège et qu'il est bien mal car tout le monde se moque de lui? II vient de rentrer chez lui, ne veut parler à personne, il a mm peur que ça lui porte préjudice pour le lycée. Bonne journée— Camille Crosnier (@CamCrosnier) June 19, 2018
In a second tweet, she added “Other students have just passed by him laughing and watching the video on the internet again (it's all they've talked about since yesterday). He looks totally overwhelmed and depressed, he has locked himself up. WELL DONE.”
D'autres élèves viennent de passer devant chez lui en rigolant et en regardant à nouveau la video sur internet (ils ne parlent que de ça depuis hier) Lui a l'air totalement dépassé et déprimé, il s'est enfermé. WELL DONE.— Camille Crosnier (@CamCrosnier) June 19, 2018
Although the boy's face is now well-known, the journalist said he had requested not to be identified nor for his college name or even home city to be named, saying: “I do not want it to be a problem for me at high school”.
She sarcastically applauded the President’s "great public relations effort”.
The incident occurred as Mr Macron took part in a solemn ceremony commemorating France’s call to arms during the Second World War. He was greeting a group of youngsters across a metal barrier when the unnamed boy uttered the casual greeting, shortening Emmanuel to the more informal “Manu”.
"No, you can't do that, no, no, no, no," Mr Macron told the teenager who was present with a group of schoolfriends during his visit to the Mont Valerien fort near Paris, where scores of French Resistance activists were executed.
The boy instantly said "sorry, Mr President” but Mr Macron wouldn’t let it lie, exclaiming: ’You’re here, at an official ceremony and you should behave. You can play the fool but today it's the Marseillaise, the Chant des Partisans (French Resistance song), so you call me 'Mister President' or 'Sir'. Ok? There you go.”
He then told the teen, who had irked him by singing a few lines from the Socialist anthem The Internationale, “The day you want to start a revolution you study first in order to obtain a degree and feed yourself, ok? And then you can lecture others."
Online reaction was mixed.
One commentator on 20 Minutes wrote: “Abuse of dominant position. Very ugly.”
But another wrote: “This isn’t a young man, as the journalist makes out, but an disrespectful adolescent. It is quite understandable that he should be put back in his place.”
The exchange came as Mr Macron faces criticism for blunt language and perceived lack of empathy with the less well-off, amid claims he is “the president of the rich”.
In an Elysée video posted last week he complained that the French were spending a “crazy amount of dough” on social security.
Last year, he also irked Left-wingers by calling opponents of his labour reforms “slackers”.
A poll out on Friday suggested that support for the president had gone up among Right-wing voters, but slightly down among Left-wingers.