An aide of Lebanon’s Grand Mufti attempted to give a headscarf to France’s Marine Le Pen before meeting the highest Sunni cleric in the country, but she moved toward her car and left.
France’s far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen refused to go into a meeting with Lebanon’s grand mufti on Tuesday after his aides asked her to wear a headscarf.
Le Pen, who is on a three-day visit to Lebanon this week and has met senior officials, was scheduled to meet Grand Sunni Muslim Mufti Shaikh Abdul Latif Derian on Tuesday morning.
Shortly after she arrived at his office, one of his aides tried to give her a white headscarf to put on.
“The highest Sunni authority in the world had not had this requirement, so I have no reason to,” Le Pen said, referring to her 2015 visit to Al Azhar, the prestigious Egyptian institution of Sunni Islamic learning.
“But it does not matter. You will pass on to the grand mufti my consideration but I will not veil myself,” the candidate said.
Deryan heads Dar Al Fatwa, the highest Sunni authority in Lebanon.
Le Pen met the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Ahmed Al Tayeb, in 2015 and photos of the meeting show her with the cleric without wearing a veil.
Once she was told that customs are different in Lebanon, Le Pen walked toward her car and left.
Later, the mufti’s office issued a statement saying that Le Pen was told in advance through one of her aides that she will have to put a headscarf during the meeting with the mufti.
“This is the protocol,” at the mufti’s office, the statement said.
The statement detailed how the mufti’s aides tried to give her the headscarf and that Le Pen refused to take it.
“The mufti’s office regrets this inappropriate behavior in such meetings,” the statement said.
Tuesday is Le Pen’s last day in Lebanon, where she met a foreign head of state for the first time – President Michel Aoun.
The FN leader, whose party takes an anti-immigrant stance, also met Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, a Sunni, and Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil.
Islamic dress is a hot-button issue in France, where the full-face veil is banned in public places.
Shunned by European leaders over her party’s stance on immigration and its anti-EU message, Le Pen’s meeting with Aoun aimed to boost her international credibility.