The French mainstream right UMP party is to expel the mayor of a small southern town who has called for Islam to be banned in France. Former president Nicolas Sarkozy condemned the call on Friday.

"The Muslim religion must be banned in France," Venelles mayor Robert Chardon tweeted on Thursday as his contribution to a dialogue Sarkozy had opened with the public under the hashtag #NSDirect.

Anyone practising the religion should be "immediately escorted to the border", he added.

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