Paris opera house removes woman wearing niqab after cast refuses to perform

A Muslim woman wearing the niqab has been forced to leave a theatre in France after the cast refused to perform in protest against her attire.

The niqab is a traditional Muslim garment which is illegal to wear in France.

The incident occurred during the performance of La Traviata at Opera Bastille in Paris, the opera house’s deputy director Jean-Philippe Thiellay told AFP.

The incident occurred on 3 October but the French media did not report it until Sunday 19 October.

The woman, from a Gulf State, was visiting France with her companion. She was asked to remove the veil or leave the theatre as “performers said they didn’t want to sing,” Thiellay explained.

After the deputy-director was made aware of the cast’s request, an usher approached the woman.

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

“But there was a misunderstanding of the law and the lady either had to respect it or leave,” he added.

The pair had paid €231 (£183) each for their seats. They did not demand any compensation, Opera Bastille said.

The use of the niqab and the burqa has been illegal in France since 2011.

According to the law, people are not allowed to wear garments that cover the face, including masks, balaclavas (cloths that cover the face with exception of the eyes), helmets and hoods in public spaces.

Transgressors are subjected to fines of up to €150 (£118).

In 2011, the then president Nicolas Sarkozy defended the law by saying it was necessary to deny shoplifters and terrorists the chance to hide their identities and facial features.

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