Headscarf row dominates Le Pen's Lebanon visit

A spokesperson for the grand mufti said Le Pen was informed of the headscarf requirement prior to the meeting, CNN reported.

"I met the grand mufti of Al-Azhar", Le Pen told reporters.

During her visit to Lebanon, which began on Sunday, Le Pen has met with figures including Lebanese President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

Opinion polls put Macron neck-and-neck with conservative former prime minister Francois Fillon to get into the run-off agains Front National leader Marine Le Pen. Le Pen has proposed extending the 2004 law banning headscarves and other religious symbols in all public spaces.

According to a poll conducted by communications firm Elabe for French television station BFMTV and magazine L'Express, Le Pen, who wants to take France out of the European Union, is now polling at 27 percent in the first round vote.

According to a source speaking to Agence France-Presse, Le Pen is accused of creating fake roles for her bodyguard and her former cabinet head as parliamentary assistants at the European Parliament.

In response the office of the Muslim cleric branded Le Pen's refusal to wear the garment as "improper behaviour".

Lebanon has taken in some 1.2 million Syrian refugees - the equivalent of one-fourth of its own population.

She is just the latest presidential candidate to be embroiled in controversy as the most open election in France's history continues to throw up surprises and allegations.

The presidential candidate for France's far-right National Front party was on a two-day tour of Lebanon in hopes of securing Franco-Lebanese votes ahead of April's election. She is hoping to burnish her credentials as a defender of Christians in the Middle East, looking to win votes of the thousands of French citizens in Lebanon and have an impact on the global scene.

An FN statement claimed Monday's raids were an attempt to "disturb the smooth running of the presidential campaign and to sink Marine Le Pen at the moment her campaign is making strides with voting intentions".

Eléonore Vidal, 28, a NGO project manager from Wandsworth, said she initially liked "serious and honest" Mr Fillon but is now reconsidering her vote. "It's respect for human rights". We can not ask the Lebanese people to forget the crimes of the Syrian regime against it and we can not return en masse (Syrians) while there is the Syrian regime.

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