French far-right leader: Egypt visit failed to change view on immigration
Le Pen arrived in Egypt last week for a meeting with the grand imam of Al Azhar, Sunni Islam's highest authority
The leader of France's far right National Front party said on Sunday that a visit to Egypt to meet with the country's religious and political leaders had no effect on her views on Arab and Muslim immigration to France.
Since taking over from her father and becoming head of the National Front, Marine Le Pen has sought to rid the party of its anti-Semitic image and position it as an anti-immigrant, Eurosceptic force offering protectionist policies to shelter France from globalisation.
Le Pen arrived in Egypt last week for a meeting with the grand imam of Al Azhar, Sunni Islam's highest authority, the pope of the Egyptian Coptic Church, and Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb.
While she said she had agreed with Mehleb and Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayeb on the threat of Islamic extremism to Europe and the region, Le Pen said she would not be reviewing her position on immigration from Muslim countries following the trip.
"No, my feelings have not changed at all regarding illegal immigration," she said when asked by Reuters if the discussions with Egyptian political and religious leaders had offered alternatives to her party's hardline position on immigration.
"We can't just welcome (immigrants) in France - the only solution is that we protect them in their country and for them to continue to live in their country," she said.
Opinion polls this year have suggested Le Pen will head the field in the first round of presidential elections due in 2017. However, pollsters say she will not be able to muster enough support to triumph in the subsequent second-round ballot.
Le Pen also said that regional partners were key to curbing immigration to Europe but that turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa, and the Western response to it, have made the immigration situation much worse for France.
"Egypt, for us, is the castle that will protect us" from immigration to France, Le Pen said.
France’s Le Pen hails Egypt’s battle against ‘extremism’The far-right leader said that Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood, which is blacklisted in Egypt, shared a similar ideology to that of ISIS Middle East
Anti-Muslim attacks in France rise since Charlie HebdoMore than 50 anti-Muslim incidents have occurred across France since the Jan. 7-9 deadly attacks on satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish ... Perspective
French far-right leader in Egypt for surprise talks with Al-AzharThe grand imam of Al-Azhar told Marine Le Pen the National Front's "opinions must be reviewed and corrected." Middle East
France’s Le Pen pulls out of election after feud with daughterLe Pen incurred the wrath of Marine Le Pen by repeating an assertion that the Nazi gas chambers were a “detail of history” World News
France’s Le Pen accepts Madonna offer for a chatThe American singer superimposed the swastika on video of Le Pen's face during a 2012 Paris concert Variety
French far-right mayor slammed for counting Muslim childrenUnder France’s strict secularism laws, the government does not keep statistics on people’s religion or ethnicity Middle East
French far-right’s call for death penalty mere politicking: expertsCapital punishment is unlikely to make a return, even with the French public shocked by the most deadly attacks witnessed in the last half-century Analysis
French far-right leader calls for death penalty in Paris shooting aftermathCapital punishment was practiced in France from the middle ages until 1977 World News