Le Pen's Chances to Win in 2nd Election Round Down by

A spokesperson for the grand mufti's office says it informed Le Pen's aides prior to scheduling the meeting that she would be required to wear a headscarf. "It's a double insult", said Walid Jumblatt, the political leader of the minority Druze community. Le Pen, whose offices were searched by police on Monday, claims the investigation into her party's misuse of European Funds is a "political plot" set up to undermine her campaign.

With right-wing leader Marine Le Pen threatening in the polls, Macron confirmed the partnership with Bayrou on a platform "based on values and ideas". "I have made a decision to offer Emmanuel Macron an alliance", Bayrou told a press conference, reported the Guardian. "They didn't cancel the meeting and so I therefore assumed that they had then accepted that I wouldn't be wearing a headscarf", she told reporters after the incident, according to Agence France-Presse.

Marine Le Pen during her press conference on Tuesday.

France has banned the headscarf in some instances, including in public schools, and Le Pen has said she wants to ban it-as well as other religious symbols-in all public spaces.

Le Pen's two-day visit to France's former colony has been seen as a way to boost her foreign policy image as well as target the votes of French citizens of Lebanese descent, many who fled to France following a civil war. She is scheduled to meet with the head of the Maronite Christian Church Patriarch Beshara al-Rai.

Le Pen is consistently tipped in opinion polls to win the April 23 first round of the two-round race but she is also tipped to lose the two-way runoff ballot on May 7 - to either Fillon or another independent candidate, the centrist Emmanuel Macron.

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This was despite being told about the traditional procedure of covering the head as a mark of respect.

In the fractious politics of Lebanon, President Michel Aoun, whom Le Pen also met, supports Assad and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah working to bolster him.

"With geopolitics, one must often make the choice in favor of the lesser evil and for me, the lesser evil is Bashar al-Assad", the Lebanese newspaper quoted her as saying. She described Assad as the "only viable solution" to deal with Islamic State.

The prime minister also said that "it would be a big and serious error to link Islam and Muslims on the one hand and terrorism on the other".

For months, the anti-euro, anti-immigration candidate has led in polls for the first round of voting in France's presidential election, though not the second.

  • Rita Burton