Opera-goer ejected for wearing veil

Woman wearing niqab was asked to leave halfway through opera in Paris

19 October 2014

A TOURIST illegally wearing a veil over her face was asked to leave during a performance of Verdi’s La Traviata at the Opéra Bastille in Paris.

Opera deputy director Jean-Philippe Thiellay was alerted during the second act by a chorister who had spotted the veiled spectator in the front row and threatened to stop singing until she removed her veil or left the auditorium, in keeping with the 2011 law banning the face-covering niqab in public places.

An usher took advantage of a scene change to inform the couple, said to be from the Gulf region, of the law. They left without fuss or asking for a refund for their €231 tickets.

“I don’t like the idea of asking a spectator to leave but it’s the law. In addition we are a public service,” Mr Thiellay told Metronews .

Those caught in public wearing a veil that covers nose and mouth as well as hair are liable to a €150 fine and must attend a citizenship course.

Following the incident, the Culture Ministry sent out a reminder to theatres, museums and other public places to enforce the law.

Staff at the Paris Opera houses – the Opéra Bastille and Palais Garnier – were given orders to be more vigilant as opera-goers enter, especially as more tickets are being sold to Middle Eastern tourists as a result of the opera houses’ campaign to target them.

The incident came just days after MEP and former Sarkozy government minister Nadine Morano asked a woman to remove her burqa at Paris Gare de l’Est.

Photo: Bernard Gagnon

Resident or second-home owner in France?
Benefit from our daily digest of headlines and how-to's to help you make the most of life in France
By joining the newsletter, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy
See more popular articles
The Connexion Help Guides
Brexit and Beyond for Britons in France*
Featured Help Guide
What the Brexit deal means for UK residents of France, second homeowners and visitors in 2021 and after
Get news, views and information from France