French Presidential Candidate Refuses to Wear Headscarf in Meeting with Lebanon’s Grand Mufti

Marine Le Pen cancels meeting with Lebanon’s Grand Mufti.

French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen refuses to wear a headscarf and cancels meeting Lebanon’s Grand Mufti.[/tweetit] The Grand Mufti serves as the top cleric for the Sunni Muslim community in Lebanon.

French Presidential Candidate Refuses to Wear Headscarf in Meeting with Lebanon’s Grand Mufti[/tweetthis]

Le Pen is said to have been on a two-day tour to Lebanon with the aim of strengthening her foreign policy credentials. The tour comes exactly nine weeks prior to the first round, which is to be held on April 23. It is believed the presidential candidate is targeting possible votes from the Franco-Lebanese community.

Many Lebanese citizens fled to France during the civil war period from 1975 to 1990. Also, France had formerly operated as a colonial power over Lebanon.

Le Pen had met with Michel Aoun, Lebanon’s Christian president, making this her first handshake with a head of state. She had also met Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri earlier this week. After that, she was scheduled to meet the Grand Mufti.

The Grand Mufti heads the Dar Al-Fatwa, the Sunni Muslim community’s primary religious authority.

Le Pen justified her refusal to wear the headscarf by bringing up an older meeting with the Grand Mufti Al-Azhar during her visit to Cairo’s Center for Islamic Learning. She claimed she wasn’t required to adorn a headscarf back then.

Later, the presidential candidate told reporters her respect can be passed on to the Grand Mufti, but she wouldn’t cover herself up.

According to the Grand Mufti’s press office, Le Pen and her aides were informed of the headscarf requirement well in advance and they found her refusal to be surprising. But, Le Pen disputed the agreement, insisting she had warned them about her refusal. She assumed they accepted her refusal based on the fact that the meeting had not been canceled. 

However, Le Pen’s actions weren’t seen as something severe back in France. French laws already ban the use of headscarves for women in high school and public service settings. The ban is seen as being in favor of equality for women and church-state separation. Le Pen aims to bring the ban to all public spaces.

After the incident took place, Florian Philippot, VP of the National Front party, took to Twitter celebrating Le Pen’s actions as “message of freedom and women’s emancipation.”


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