During a two-day visit to Lebanon, meant to strengthen her foreign policy credentials, far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen abruptly canceled a meeting with one of the nation’s top Muslim clerics on Tuesday over her refusal to wear a hijab for the planned get-together. Le Pen, who is one of the frontrunners in France’s presidential election, was scheduled to meet with Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Derian, the top cleric at Dar al-Fatwa and one of the leading clerics in Lebanon for Sunni Muslims.
According to Reuters, Derian’s press office said Le Pen’s team was made aware ahead of the meeting that she’d be required to wear a headscarf, and was “surprised by her refusal” to do so.
Le Pen was defiant about her decision when speaking to reporters on Tuesday her visit two years ago to Cairo’s 1,000-year-old center of Islamic learning that required no such dress code.
“I met the grand mufti of Al-Azhar,” Le Pen recalled. “The highest Sunni authority didn’t have this requirement, but it doesn’t matter. You can pass on my respects to the grand mufti, but I will not cover myself up,” she said.
France, of course, has been a hotbed of controversy surrounding the hijab and other traditional Islamic dress. According to French law, the wearing of hijabs is outlawed in schools and government employees are barred from wearing the headscarf. Last summer, France was ground zero for the debate over the burkini, a full-body swimsuit that allows Muslim women to cover up appropriately, according to their Islamic faith. For her part, Le Pen, who has ridden a wave of populism, wants to widen the ban on hijabs to all public places.
Read the full story at Reuters.