France's Marine Le Pen refuses to wear head scarf, cancels meet with Lebanon's Grand mufti
Beirut, Feb 21: Far-right French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen cancelled a meeting with Lebanon's Grand Mufti on Tuesday after refusing to wear a headscarf.
"You can pass on my respects to the Grand Mufti, but I will not cover myself up," Le Pen told reporters.
"I have met before with Grand Imam Sheikh al-Azhar in Egypt without wearing a veil," the 48-year-old leader of the National Front party.
Le Pen was told by Lebanese officials that she would have to wear a veil for her audience with Grand Sunni Muslim Mufti, Sheikh Abdel-Latif Derian, the Independent reported.
Video footage showed Le Pen at the entrance to his office shaking her head.
Le Pen said she had met in the past with the grand mufti of Egypt's Al-Azhar, one of the world's top Sunni clerics, without wearing a veil.
"He did not have this demand," said Le Pen. "But it's not a problem, you can pass on to the Grand Mufti my considerations, but I am not putting the veil on."
Once told that customs were different in Lebanon, Le Pen walked out of the building and left in her car, according to the report.
Her aides had reportedly been informed before her visit that she would be required to wear a headscarf.
Praising the "political gesture", Florian Philippot, one Le Pen's closest aides, said it was "a beautiful message of emancipation and freedom sent to the women of France and the world", reported the Daily Mail.
The anti-immigration politician made a three-day visit to Lebanon this week to meet officials in an effort to bolster her presidential credentials two months before the first round of voting in the French presidential election.
Polls suggest that Le Pen is expected to win the first round of voting in presidential elections in April.
The latest poll on Monday, according to reports, showed support for the far-right candidate had risen by one per cent to 27 per cent.