Paris Opera Case Refuse to Perform for Veiled Woman

La Traviata at the Opéra Bastille Photo: Opéra Bastille

La Traviata at the Opéra Bastille Photo: Opéra Bastille

A woman wearing a full-face Islamic veil was told to leave a Paris opera house after members of the cast refused to perform if she remained in the audience, officials said.

The woman, described as “a tourist from a Gulf state”, was sitting on the front row during a performance of La Traviata at the Opéra Bastille, the deputy director, Jean-Philippe Thiellay, said.

France banned the wearing of the full-face veil, or niqab, in public in 2011. The ban was upheld by the European Court of Human Rights earlier this year.

Mr Thiellay said performers told him during the second act that they would only continue if the woman left. During the interval, an attendant told her that she could stay if she removed her veil.

"He told her that in France there is a ban of this nature, asked her to either uncover her face or leave the room,” Mr Thiellay said. “The man asked the woman to get up, they left."

He added: "It's never nice to ask someone to leave. But there was a misunderstanding of the law and the lady either had to respect it or leave."

After news of the incident, which happened earlier this month, emerged on Monday, the government said it would review its guidelines to help theatres, museums and other public institutions enforce the ban.

Women wearing a face veil in public may be fined up to €150 (£120) and compelled to attend citizenship classes. Anyone forcing others to cover their faces may be fined up to €30,000 (£23,750), or double that amount if the woman is under 18.

Most women who have breached the ban have simply been warned and few have been prosecuted.

Last year, a veiled woman stopped by police for an identity check was arrested after her husband allegedly attacked an officer. The incident sparked clashes between youths and police in two Paris suburbs.

(source)

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