Far-right French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has shown once more her remarkable similarity with President Donald Trump in being independent and courageous, preferring to be genuine than to be politically-correct hypocrites. Le Pen proved that one can show respect without bowing down to imposed beliefs and practices that run contrary to one's own.
Le Pen chose to cancel a meeting with Lebanon's Grand Mufti after being told by Lebanese officials that she has to wear a veil before she could have an audience with Grand Sunni Muslim Mufti, Sheikh Abdul-Latif Derian. Le Pen stood her ground and said instead that his officials could pass on her respects to the Grand Mufti, but that she will not cover herself up.
Le Pen also argued that she also had a meeting in Egypt with the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, acknowledged by a number of Muslims as the highest authority in Sunni Islamic thought, but she was not asked or forced to cover her head for the meeting to proceed.
Le Pen's refusal to be compelled against her will to wear a veil to meet a religious leading figure is not just out of being stubborn or whimsical. It is also not about religious tolerance or intolerance, but being a French political figure, she was also just being consistent with the French political context. French laws bans wearing headscarves in public places and for high school students for the purpose of church-state separation and in the name of equal rights for women.
Le Pen is in a two-day visit to Lebanon to push for her foreign policy credentials, and observers say to potentially target the support of Franco-Lebanese voters. She had earlier met with Christian President Michel Aoun giving her first public handshake with a head of state, and Sunni Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri on Monday. The National Front leader would not trade political expediency and will not blindly subscribe to so-called political correctness in exchange for any possible political gain if it would mean being imposed on, instead of mutual tolerance and solidarity. It was Lebanon and their officials who ruined the visit. When told that she would have to abide by Lebanon customs, Le Pen chose to hold her head high, walked out of the building, went to her car and simply left- sending a strong political message in the process.
Le Pen currently leads the latest polls with 27%, up by one percent against her rivals for the French presidency socialist Emmanuel Marcon and conservative candidate Francois Fillon, with unchanged ratings at 20%. While the mainstream media continue to doubt Le Pen's winnability in the end, the far-right candidate is confident she would pull off an upset victory in similar fashion as Brexit and Trump did last year.
Le Pen hopes that the similar populist momentum would stretch all the way to her victory. She shares Trump's strong anti-immigration sentiments and tough stance against radical Islamism. Le Pen has also articulated her stance against EU and has made the pledge to support France's own exit from the EU once she wins the election.