NARBONNE: Three resorts in France were poised to join three other seaside towns in banning the burkini, the full-body Islamic swimming garment that has sparked concern about religious extremism.
Prime Minister Manuel Valls also weighed in on the debate, lashing the wearing of the burkini as "not compatible with the values of France and the Republic" and saying he supported mayors who ban it if they acted in the public good.
In the southwest, the mayor of the resort town of Leucate, Michel Py, was to sign a municipal decree yesterday that would ban the burkini on public beaches, the town hall said.
The decree, which runs until August 31, will bar access to public beaches to "any person who is not properly dressed, respectful of moral behaviour and secularism, hygiene and bathing safety."
"The wearing of bathing clothes which are associated with these principles is also forbidden," according to the decree, seen by AFP.
Leucate is located on the Mediterranean coast, 35 kilometres (20 miles) from Perpignan.
In the northern French department of Pas-de-Calais, the mayor of the Channel town of Oye-Plage yesterday said he would also move to ban the burkini after seeing a woman wearing "a complete cape and gloves, covering her face and her eyes" as she headed to the beach on Sunday.
In the nearby upmarket resort of Le Touquet, local mayor and MP Daniel Fasquelle said he would also implement a burkini ban in the coming days "to fight against religious proselytising."
"There are no burkinis in Le Touquet at the moment, but I don't want the town hall to be caught offguard if we are affected by this phenomenon," Fasquelle told AFP.
The Corsican town of Sisco on Sunday became the third to introduce a ban after a brawl in a cove between locals and families of North African origin left five people injured.
A witness said the violence broke out after tourists took pictures of women swimming in burkinis on the Mediterranean island. Investigators are still probing what happened.
The first ban on the burkini has been attributed to Mandelieu-la-Napoule, close to Cannes, where it was discreetly barred in July 2013.
The text of the municipal decree has been used, typically word for word, in bans elsewhere.
Cannes mayor David Lisnard said he had signed off on the burkini ban out of "respect for good customs and secularism", a founding principle of the French republic.
But Villeneuve-Loubet mayor Lionnel Luca had a different argument, saying swimming "fully dressed... (was) unacceptable for hygienic reasons."
The bans are opposed by some, who contend they are a populist ploy, violate human rights and likely to inflame tensions.
The Collective Against Islamophobia in France (CCIF) mounted an unsuccessful legal challenge to the ban in Cannes.
It is now taking its case to the Council of State, the highest judicial authority in France for administrative matters.