No matter what, goes the old saying, the show must go on!
Well, unless it’s in France and a member of the audience is in a burka and has their face covered with a veil.
The Telegraph reports that a Muslim woman, out for a night of opera in Paris, didn’t get to see the whole show when the actors refused to continue performing unless the veiled woman, clad in a full burka or niqab, was removed from the theatre.
The woman was reportedly wearing a full-face veil and asked to vacate the premises for the performance of La Traviata at the Opéra Bastille when the actors said they wouldn’t come back on stage during the second act.
“Some performers said they didn’t want to sing,” the opera house’s deputy director, Jean-Philippe Thiellay, told Agence France Presse on Monday. “They didn’t like performing for a faceless audience member.”
The veiled woman was reportedly “a tourist from a Gulf state,” and sitting in the most expensive $294 front row seats watching La Traviata with a male companion.
A member of the cast noticed the veiled woman sitting in the front row during the second act of the opera. The rest of the cast learned of the burka wearing woman with the covered face and told Mr. Thiellay they would only continue the show if the veiled woman left. A security guard delivered the ultimatum to the veiled woman, asking her to either leave or remove the veil from her face, according to Thiellay.
“He told her that in France there is a ban of this nature, asked her to either uncover her face or leave the auditorium. The man asked the woman to get up, they left. It was unpleasant getting her to leave. But there was a misunderstanding of the law and the lady either had to respect it or leave.”
Refunds for the veiled woman and her male companion were not forthcoming from the Opéra Bastille.
The wearing of full-faced veils in public has been banned in France since 2011, and the European Court of Human Rights upheld the ban just this year.
The veiled woman’s removal from the opera took place earlier in October, but news of the incident just began to come out on Monday. The French government said it was going to review its guidelines in hopes of helping theatres, museums and other public institutions best enforce the ban.
While most women who violate the ban are simply given a warning with very few veiled women having been prosecuted, a woman publically wearing a face veil in France can be fined up to 150 euros and made to attend “citizenship classes.”
If it’s somebody else that has forced a woman to cover her face, the culprit can face fines up to 30,000 euros. Double that if trying to force a woman under 18 to cover her face.
According to The Telegraph, the husband of a veiled woman who was stopped by police for an identity check, attacked the police. He was arrested, lighting a fuse that led to violent confrontations in Paris suburbs between youths and police.
[Images via The Telegraph and Reuters]