Sarkozy Tells Comeback Rally He Would Ban Burkini Across France

CHATEAURENARD, France (Reuters) – Nicolas Sarkozy said on Thursday he would impose a nationwide ban on burkinis if elected back to the presidency in 2017, positioning himself as a strong defender of French values and tough on immigration. Hundreds of supporters waving French flags chanted “Nicolas! Nicolas!” and applauded as Sarkozy, a conservative president from 2007 to 2012 before losing an election to Socialist Francois Hollande, promised to protect the French people. “I will be the president that re-establishes the authority of the state,” Sarkozy told a crowd of more than 2,000 packing a sports hall in Chateaurenard, a Provence town where his Les Republicains beat the far-right Front National (FN) in regional elections last year. “I want to be the president who guarantees the safety of France and of every French person,” the 61-year-old said, sending a message that he could tackle the Islamist violence that has killed 230 people in attacks since January 2015. For months he lagged in opinion polls behind Alain Juppe, a mild-mannered, more centrist former prime minister who is his main rival for the November primaries that will choose a conservative candidate for the election. But his popularity, which had already started improving with