French Police Raid National Front Over European Parliament Payments

The Grand Mufti's press office said that Le Pen had been informed beforehand of their requirement, Reuters reports.

"I will not put on the veil", she proclaimed.

Al Jazeera's Natasha Ghoneim, reporting from the Beirut, said that critics accused Le Pen, whose party takes an anti-immigrant stance, of staging the incident as a kind of stunt.

Le Pen leads first round voting intentions with 26 percent of support, with Macron in second place on 22 percent slightly ahead of Fillon on 21 percent.

"I met the grand mufti of Al-Azhar", she told reporters, referencing a 2015 trip a center of Islamic teaching in Cairo.

"You can pass on my respects to the Grand Mufti, but I will not cover myself up".

But upon arriving for the meeting, she said she was surprised to be told a headscarf was required and refused to wear the garment.

"This is the protocol", the statement said. "The mufti's office regrets this inappropriate behavior in such meetings".

Le Pen has proposed leaving the euro zone, taxing imports and on-the-job contracts of foreigners, lowering the retirement age and making foreigners pay for their children to go to schools free to French citizens.

Lebanon's Christians have long looked to France for security against the Middle East's turmoil, and President Aoun spent years in exile in France. "A magnificent message of freedom and emancipation sent to the women of France and of the world".

The pair, who are also employed as European Parliament assistants, can be held for up to 48 hours after which they could be released or presented to an investigating judge to face potential preliminary charges.

Shunned by European leaders over her party's stance on immigration and its anti-EU message, Le Pen's meeting with Aoun aimed to boost her global credibility.

Macron's biggest opponent thus far is the center-right candidate, Francois Fillon who remains a strong contender despite his embroilment with a fake parliamentary jobs scandal.

In a contest against Macron, the leader of En Marche and the former economy minister, Le Pen would receive 42 percent of the vote in contrast to Macron's 58 percent.

According to the same poll, taken before the alliance was announced, Mr Bayrou would net 5.5% while Ms Le Pen would take 26%.

She has denied the claims, describing the investigation as a vendetta against her.

Asked whether it was the first time a British Prime Minister had met a French presidential candidate, the spokesman said Tony Blair had met Nicolas Sarkozy in 2007.

  • Jon Douglas