The leader of France’s National Front, Marine Le Pen, has opted to cancel a meeting with Lebanon’s Grand Mufti rather than wear the traditional Islamic veil.
Ms Le Pen is in the country to meet its leaders ahead of the first round of voting in France’s Presidential elections in April, in which she is expected to top the polls. But when offered a scarf to wear to a scheduled meeting with the Sunni religious leader, the Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Derian, she declined.
“You can pass on my respects to the grand mufti, but I will not cover myself up,” she said. Press officers for the cleric said they were “surprised by her refusal”.
Ms Le Pen’s refusal to don the Islamic scarf comes just a week after a delegation from Sweden’s “feminist” government were accused of hypocrisy for wearing headscarves for almost the entirety of their visit to Iran.
“The veil is a symbol of the oppression of women in Iran, and it is not only customary, but legislated oppression of women,” the Swedish Liberal Party leader Jan Björklund said, adding: “It is very unfortunate that the Swedish ministers are appearing in pictures, now in circulation, with the veil on.”