Two veiled women who were told by a French restaurateur that all Muslims are terrorists then forced to leave the restaurant complained to authorities Monday, an anti-Islamophobia campaign group said.
The Collective against Islamophobia in France (CCIF), which is supporting the women, said that the incident represented a “racist shift” in French society as prosecutors opened an investigation into possible “religious discrimination”.
The encounter at Le Cenacle restaurant in Tremblay-en-France outside Paris was filmed by one of the two women and posted online and shows the other saying: “We don’t want to be served by racists.”
The man in the smartphone clip responds that “racists like me don’t plant bombs and don’t kill people”. He added that “terrorists are Muslim and all Muslims are terrorists. I don’t want people like you in my place. Now you know it you can get out”.
The restaurateur later apologised to the “entire Muslim community” for his actions as calls to boycott his establishment flooded social media sites alongside negative reviews.
The CCIF said in a statement that it intends to pursue a civil claim against the man and would press for “exemplary damages” to end the “impunity of Islamophobic violence and discrimination”.
It also accused the government and France’s political class of being responsible for creating a climate in which such incidents can occur.
The row comes as a debate about the wearing of the burkini reached fever pitch.
Around 30 towns have banned the burkini from their beaches, with some mayors linking the bans to the massacre of 84 people in the southern French town of Nice last month.
It was on Nice’s famous seafront promenade that a jihadist ploughed a 19-tonne truck into a massive crowd celebrating Bastille Day on July 14, killing the 84 and wounding more than 400 other people.
Sone town mayors have vowed to maintain their burkini ban despite a ruling by France’s highest administrative court that the prohibitions are unconstitutional. AFP