Paris: Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy has pledged to impose a nationwide ban on the burkini -- full-body swimsuit worn by Muslim women -- if he is re-elected next year.
While launching his campaign to succeed President Francois Hollande in the 2017 presidential election, Sarkozy late on Thursday discussed issues of French identity and the nationwide ban on Islamic veils.
Earlier this week, Sarkozy controversially labelled the swimwear, worn by some Muslim women to cover the hair and face, a "provocation".
In an interview last week, Sarkozy declared that wearing a burkini was "a political act, militant, a provocation", the Independent reported.
According to Efe news, France's National Front party would also ban Islamic veils and other "religious" symbols in all public areas if it came to power in France, party Deputy Head Florian Philipot said.
He added that his party wishes to expand the 2004 law to bring the ban to all public spaces which affects those who wear the Islamic head covering, but also those who carry large Christian crosses in full view or wear the Jewish skullcap.
According to reports, Philippot said that his proposal is to expand the 2004 law that already restricts the use of Islamic veils in schools and for those working for the government.
More than a dozen French cities and communes have banned the swimwear in a trend started by the Riviera city of Cannes.
According to the Independent, France's highest administrative court is examining the legality of the by-laws, which have been brought in individually with varying wording alluding to clothing "respectful to morality and secular principles".
Some bans have alluded to a threat to public order, while other mayors have specifically put them in the context of terror attacks, extremism and fear.
Sarkozy, who served as French President from 2007 to 2012, is campaigning to be the conservative candidate for next year's elections.
Court suspends burkini ban
France's highest administrative court on Friday suspended a ban on full-body burkini swimsuits that has outraged Muslims and opened divisions within the government, pending a definitive ruling, the court said in a statement.
The Conseil d'Etat gave the ruling following a request from the League of Human Rights to overturn the burkini ban in the Mediterranean town of Villeneuve-Loubet on the grounds it contravenes civil liberties, The Mirror reported.