Nicolas Sarkozy hints he wants to ban Muslim headscarves in France

But his campaign team claim it was an off-hand comment

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The Independent Online

Nicolas Sarkozy has indicated he plans to ban the Muslim headscarf in public if he gets into power next year.

Mr Sarkozy, who is seeking the Republican Party nomination to run as a presidential candidate in the 2017 election, told a French radio show he intended to ban the headscarf in order to achieve "strict equality" between men and women and comply with the values of the French Republic.

During an interview on Radio Classique, the right-wing politician was asked whether he was preparing to ban the headscarf, to which he replied: "Exactly".

When the journalist then asked: "Yes or no?" Mr Sarkozy replied with a clear "Yes", adding: “On French soil, we don't accept inequalities between men and women."

The politician and former French president proceeded to argue that a ban of headscarves and burkinis was required to achieve gender equality and uphold the "national identity" of the French Republic.

He said: “No headscarves, no burkinis, no specific swimming times at the public pools, and strict equality when it comes to the rights and of men and women - that is the French republic.

"We have a national identity, a way of life. There are countries in the world where women can't drive. If you want to live there you can go live there. In the Republic of France, we do not accept that."

Despite Mr Sarkozy's comments his team has denied they are working on a proposal to ban the headscarf, claiming hid remarks had been overplayed in the media.

The team told L'Express newspaper: “We are still working on the burkini, not the headscarf. There is a media frenzy about this, but let there be no ambiguity.”

Over the summer Mr Sarkozy vowed to impose a nationwide ban on burkinis if elected as president next year, labelling the swimwear a “provocation”.

Mr Sarkozy has been vocal in denouncing French citizens who he claims do not "assimilate" into French culture. In September, he demanded that all immigrants must "live like the French", condemning the “tyranny of minorities”.

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