Former President of France Nicolas Sarkozy has vowed to impose a nationwide ban on burkinis if he is re-elected as the next president of the country next year.

Earlier this week, Mr. Sarkozy labelled the swimwear, worn by some Muslim women to cover their hair and face, a “provocation” and “a political act”.

“I refuse to let the burkini impose itself in French beaches and swimming pools,” he said, stressing the issue of French identity, “there must be a law to ban it throughout the Republic's territory.”

“Our identity is under threat when we accept an immigration policy that makes no sense.”

Dozens of cities and towns in France have banned the Islamic swimwear in a trend which started by the Riviera city of Cannes.

Some bans throughout the country have specifically put burkinis in the context of “terror attacks, extremism and fear”.

Sarkozy’s main rival, Alain Juppe, was ahead of him in opinion polls for months. But after the ISIS-inspired attacks in Nice and Normandy, his popularity has risen.

The burkini bans have sparked off debates over the wearing of the full-body swimsuit.

France’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls condemned any stigmatization of Muslims but also defended the bans.

"We are not at war with Islam... the French republic is welcoming (to Muslims), we are protecting them against discrimination," he said, as many Muslims consider the bans as Islamophobic acts.