French presidential candidate Marie Le Pen canceled a meeting with a Muslim leader on Tuesday after she was urged to wear a headscarf. Le Pen was scheduled to meet with Lebanon’s Grand Mufti, Sheikh Abdel-Latif Derian, during her two day tour of the country.
Le Pen is the president of the far-right National Front party and has frequently criticized religious symbols in public places— especially headscarfs.
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When Le Pen arrived for the meeting, she was surprised when an aide to the grand mufti attempted to hand her a white headscarf. Le Pen told reporters that when she met with the grand mufti of Al-Azhar during a 2015 trip to Egypt, she wasn't required to cover her head.
"I met the grand mufti of Al-Azhar," Le Pen said. "The highest Sunni authority didn't have this requirement, but it doesn't matter."
Before leaving the meeting, Le Pen passed on her respects but stated that she would not wear the headscarf.
"You can pass on my respects to the grand mufti, but I will not cover myself up," Le Pen said.
A spokesman for Lebanon's Grand Mufti said that Le Pen was informed about the requirement prior to the meeting.
"I urged her to put it on, she refused and said she would not put it on and walked out without attending the previously agreed upon meeting with the Mufti," the spokesman said. "The Edict House regrets such inappropriate behavior at such meetings."
Le Pen is in the midst of a presidential campaign, and recent polls show her gaining on her opponents. The first round of French elections is on April 23.