A French mayor has been suspended from his party after calling for the country to ban Islam.
Robert Chardon, the UMP mayor of Venelles in southern France, tweeted: “The Muslim religion must be banned in France” and added that anyone practising the religion must be “immediately escorted to the border”.
He also claimed Islam will be banned in France by 2027.
The tweet was part of a discussion former president Nicolas Sarkozy began with the public, using the hashtag #NSDirect.
Sarkozy, who is leader of the UMP party and is likely to run for president again in 2017, immediately distanced himself from the comments, writing: “I condemn this proposal even if secularism also means fixing limits. Rights and limits go together.”
UMP Vice-president Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet announced the party was suspending Mr Chardon pending a procedure to remove him from the UMP.
“I have called for the expulsion procedure to be started for these absurd statements that in no way reflect the values and programme of the UMP,” she told AFP.
Initially, it was thought the tweet had been sent after Mr Chardon’s account had been hacked, but the mayor confirmed he sent the extreme message.
Recently the mayor has been treated for cancer of the mouth and came to his radical proposals during this period.
“During my treatment, I've been thinking and I came to this conclusion. Islam should be banned in France, but also a Marshall Plan should be established to allow those who want to practice the Muslim religion to do so in their home country,” he told Le Monde.
Mr Chardon became mayor of the small town of Venelles in 2012 after the death of his predecessor.