French right-wing leader Marine Le Pen has pulled out of a meeting with Lebanon’s Grand Mufti after refusing to wear a headscarf.
The controversial presidential hopeful was in Lebanon seeking to bolster support ahead of the first round of voting in April.
But the proposed meeting with the Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul-Latif Derian – the most prominent Sunni Muslim cleric in the country – was scrapped at the last minute.
Ms Le Pen said: “You can pass on my respects to the Grand Mufti, but I will not cover myself up.”
“I have met before with Grand Imam Sheikh al-Azhar in Egypt without wearing a veil.”
A spokesman for the Grand Mufti said Ms Le Pen’s aides had been informed beforehand of their requirement for her to wear head covering for the meeting in Lebanese capital Beirut.
Earlier, after talks with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Ms Le Pen spoke out against French policy on Syria.
She described Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as the “only viable solution” for preventing ISIS from taking power in the war-ravaged country.
She said: ”I explained clearly that Bashar al-Assad was obviously today a much more reassuring solution for France than ISIS would be if it came to power in Syria, as it has partially taken power in Libya after the disappearance of Gaddafi.”
Never far from controversy, she flew to the Middle East as French police were searching the headquarters of her Front National party as part of an investigation into “fake jobs”.
Ms Le Pen faces allegations she gave parliamentary assistants fake jobs paid for out of EU funds.
French judges opened a fraud investigation after prosecutors handed the dossier over to them following a preliminary investigation of more than a year.
The party’s vice-president Florian Philippot dismissed the searches as a media stunt to influence the outcome of the election.
He said: ”These are media-stunt searches on the day when Le Pen gets a two-point bounce in the polls.
“It’s always when the system is in panic that these affairs come out.”
Opinion polls predict Ms Le Pen, who wants to take France out of the European Union, is likely to get the highest score and win in a landslide.
- Marine Le Pen steps down as National Front leader hours after election boost
- France: Elections Race and Why Marine Le Pen Cannot Win
- Muslims & antifa riot, burn cars in France because Le Pen won 2nd place
- ISIS bombed Russia's FSB headquarters, not neo-nazis as initially claimed
- France Struck by Islamic Terrorist Attack Again, Police Officer Killed