Footage posted online and circulated widely in France appears to show two Muslim women refused service at Le Cenacle in Tremblay-en-France, which is listed in the 2016 Michelin guide. A man, who is reportedly the restaurant’s chef, tells the women: “The terrorists are Muslim and all Muslims are terrorists… They recently killed a priest. This is a secular country and I have a right to an opinion… I don’t want people like you here. Full stop.”
The women appear visibly shocked by the exchange and tell the man they “do not wish to be served by a racist.”
He finally tells them to “get out”, to which they reply “don’t worry, we’re leaving”.
Le Parisien reports that the chef has now been interviewed by police on suspicion of enacting “racial discrimination”. He has since told local media: “I spoke out of turn and I apologise, I have a friend who died in the Bataclan attacks and wrongly mixed everything up. I do not truly believe the things I said, my comments did not reflect what I really think.”
Members of the local Muslim community gathered outside the restaurant this weekend to demand an apology for the alleged incident. Some have called for a boycott of the restaurant. The CCIF (Committee Against Islamophobia in France) has issued a statement of support to the two women and pledged to give “emotional and legal support” to them.
Tensions in France have escalated in recent weeks surrounding the so called “burkini ban”. The ban, initiated by a number of towns prohibited modest swimwear worn by some women on the beach, particularly Muslim women. This week France’s highest court ruled the ban is “seriously and clearly illegal”. However, right-wing politicians have pledged to keep ban by passing legislation at a central government level.
Former President Nicolas Sarkozy called the burkini swimwear “a provocation” and claimed France’s “identity is under threat”. He is currently running for re-election in 2017 and has pledged to introduce a nation-wide burkini ban if successful.
Critics say such responses are an irrational and prejudiced reaction to recent terror attacks in France. However, politicians say they are acting to protect France’s secular values.