Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy has said that wearing a burkini is a "political act" that promotes radical Islam. In an interview to be published in Le Figaro magazine on Friday (26 August), he said that girls will be stigmatised for not wearing a burkini while on a beach.

"Wearing a burkini is a political act, it's militant, a provocation," he said. "If we do not put an end to this, there is a risk that in 10 years, young Muslim girls who do not want to wear the veil or burkini will be stigmatised and peer-pressured."

Sarkozy, who is in the race for the presidential elections due in 2017 in France, said that if he wins the elections, he will ban all religious symbols from French universities.

To run for presidency, Sarkozy needs to win his centre-right Republicans party's primary, which will take place in November.

Meanwhile, the controversy surrounding the burkini ban reached its peak on Tuesday, after pictures emerged from Nice, wherein four police officers were standing over a woman and forced her to remove the full-length wetsuit that she was wearing.

Authorities in many towns of France have implemented a ban on the burkini stating that they are concerned about religious clothing in the wake of multiple terror attacks. Nice is one of the latest of French Riviera resort towns to ban the garment, mostly worn by Muslim women.

The decision to ban the full-body swim suit in some parts of the country will come under scrutiny at the State Council – the country's highest administrative court – on Thursday (25 August), after an appeal by a French NGO Human Rights League. The NGO is challenging a lower court's decision in Nice, which upheld the ban in the town of Villeneuve-Loubet. The organisation said the ban is a "serious and illegal attack on numerous fundamental rights", including religious freedom.

A woman wearing a burkini swims in the Mediterranean sea in Marseille, France on 17 August 2016 -Representational image REUTERS/Stringer