Far-right Le Pen refuses headscarf to meet Lebanese mufti

Cornelia Mascio
Febbraio 23, 2017

"You can pass on my respects to the Grand Mufti, but I will not cover myself up", Le Pen reportedly told journalists.

But while Ms Le Pen told reporters she was baffled by the requirement, a spokesman for Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Derian has revealed she was informed before the meeting that she had to wear the head covering.

National Front leader Le Pen is a provocative figure in France, where her anti-immigrant and anti-European Union stances have prompted some critics to accuse her of Islamophobia and xenophobia.

Wary that her image and lead in polls of voting intentions could be hurt, Ms Le Pen said she was convinced voters would not fall for what her lawyer Marcel Ceccaldi said was manipulation created to destabilise her.

'But she denies this, and is refusing to pay the money back, saying she is being victimised for political reasons. The UK is set to leave the European single market - which includes the free flow of financial services - and the right for EU nationals to live and work in the UK.

French law bans headscarves in the public service and for high school pupils, in the name of church-state separation and equal rights for women.

Meanwhile, French anti-graft police yesterday questioned two aides to the far-right candidate over suspicions that her party defrauded the European Parliament of about €340,000 (S$507,000).

According to Bloomberg, the fake job contracts amounted to more than 300,000 euros.

"Everything indicates so", Ms Le Pen said.

Marine Le Pen has edged up in recent polls. "And among voters, who are very faithful and very disciplined, it does not seem to impact on them whatsoever".

"So I have no reason to", she said, adding that she had told the grand office's office on Monday that she would not wear a headscarf.

Judicial sources say Catherine Griset had been questioned along with Le Pen's bodyguard, Thierry Legier, who was later released.

All of the suspects - including Ms Le Pen - now face imminent criminal charges.

Le Pen leads first round voting intentions with 26 percent of support, with Macron in second place on 22 percent slightly ahead of Fillon on 21 percent. She was received by Lebanon's President Michel Aoun, who spent 15 years living in exile in France, and also met with Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

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