Story By: Ernest Bio Bogore, Sub-Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Central European News
This is the viral moment a pretty young French woman claims that her group – and another group described as “English” – have just been turned away from a posh Parisian restaurant because some of them were wearing headscarves.
The woman indicated that the restaurant claimed to have a problem with their shoes, but she said she did not believe this and pointed the camera to the other group of young women who had also been refused entry despite having a reservation, allegedly because one of them was wearing a headscarf.
Both groups can be seen to have women wearing headscarves and the French woman indicates she doubts their ‘shoes’ were the problem as the other group at least were wearing designer clothes from top to bottom, including Gucci and Fendi.
She said: “I don’t know, they are English or something like that.”
A few days following the scandal, activists gathered around at the restaurant to protest religious discrimination and to urge people to boycott the restaurant.
The leader of the movement, who has not been named, highlighted it as another example of prejudice against Muslim women, saying: “They are deprived of the right to go swimming, to go to school, now it’s the turn of an Islamophobic restaurant to forbid women access because they are veiled.”
The incident was filmed outside the Matignon restaurant, located near the Champs-Elysees, in the French capital Paris and was later shared on Twitter by netizen ‘Deessegrr’ where it has been viewed 1.2 million times.
In the footage, the young woman claims that they had just been turned away by restaurant staff and the clear reason was because one of the group members was ‘veiled’.
France became the first European country to impose a ban on full-face veils in public areas in 2011.
However, the group member in the footage appears to be wearing a headscarf that does not cover her face.
It is unclear where the group member originally comes from and whether she is a Muslim.
The woman says to the camera: “We were supposed to have dinner tonight at Le Matignon, everything was supposed to go well, it’s not the first time we’ve been there. But today we have an ‘intruder’!”
“I am not used to doing this, but this time around things became serious and I have to say something.”
She added: “This is a big act of racism from the Matignon restaurant. I have never experienced anything like it.”
She added: “In 2020 it really shocks me that we still experience racism, whether racial, religious or whatever.”
She declared: “Matignon in Paris is a beautiful gang of racists.”
Before apologising for her language, she added: “On the other hand, the old Saudi men f*cking Russian whores, they are allowed in.”
According to local media, the restaurant responded angrily to the woman’s viral video, accusing her of making a “slanderous denunciation”.
A netizen who also claimed to have been turned away from the restaurant commented: “I had arrived dressed in a suit with some blonde friends. A restaurant worker refused to let me in and made it known that everyone could enter except me.”
He added: “I was the only Frenchman of Arab origin among the group. Boycott this racist restaurant! They have a problem with Maghrebis.”
According to local media, the restaurant is owned by the Costes brothers and it is not the first time that one of their establishments has been accused of discrimination.
The Costes brothers are among the richest people in France and their net worth is estimated at 270 million EUR (235 million GBP). They also own over 45 restaurants in France.
In 2018, another of their restaurants was reportedly accused of setting up “a discriminatory system to refuse as many customers as possible with Arabic-sounding names or those wearing a veil”.
Commenting on the restaurant’s TripAdvisor page has been disabled, with TripAdvisor posting the following message at the top of the page: “Due to a recent event that has attracted media attention and has caused an influx of review submissions that do not describe a first-hand experience, we have temporarily suspended publishing new reviews for this listing.”
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