France's Marine Le Pen Calls for Public Ban on Muslim Headscarf, Jewish Kippa

Leader of France's far-right National Front steps up battle against religious symbols amid tensions in Muslim world over anti-Islam film.

The leader of France's far-right National Front (FN) party stepped up her offensive against Islam Friday, calling for a public ban on the Muslim headscarf and other religious symbols.

Marine Le Pen's remarks in an interview with Le Monde newspaper come amidst tensions in the Muslim world over an anti-Islam film and French cartoons poking fun at the Prophet Mohammed.

Her call for the Muslim headscarf to be banned in public places marks a hardening of her attitude toward Muslims.

Le Pen had been calling for a ban on religious symbols in public administrations but left open whether it should extend to public transport and not discussed a ban in the street.

Asked if a ban would include the Jewish kippa, she said: "Obviously if we ban the veil, we would ban the kippa in public places."

Religious symbols are currently banned only in state schools. A separate law bans the Muslim face veil in public places.

Le Pen, who came third in this year's presidential elections on an anti-immigrant platform, has regularly criticized what she sees as the encroachment of Islam on French secular values.

But she has also been critical of the decision by the satirical Charlie Hebdo newspaper to publish cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed this week.

The cartoons were a "provocation", said Le Pen, while declaring press freedom to be "not negotiable."