A French European MP was fighting for her political future on Wednesday after coming under attack for describing France as a country of "white race."
Nadine Morano, of the right-wing The Republicans party, could be barred from standing in regional elections in December over her remarks, in which she also said France was a "Jewish-Christian" country.
Former president Nicolas Sarkozy, who heads the party – the main opposition to the governing Socialists – has asked the leadership to withdraw Morano from its list of candidates for the biggest electoral test of 2015.
Morano, a former minister with a reputation for gaffes and unguarded Twitter comments, said in a television interview on Saturday that: "We are a Jewish-Christian country… of white race, which takes in foreigners."
Sarkozy, who once counted the 51-year-old as one of his closest allies in his government, said: "I will not accept any slip-ups."
Morano has been condemned from all points of the political spectrum, and the head of The Republicans' list of candidates for eastern France, Philippe Richert, said her comments had had a "devastating effect" on his campaign.
Morano insists she is the victim of a "witchhunt."
"I said nothing terrible. In fact I don't think I've done anything wrong," she said.
Support has come from one predictable source – the former leader of the far-right National Front (FN), Jean-Marie Le Pen, who said Morano was "stating the obvious" when she described France as a country of "white race."
AFP contributed to this report.