Veiled Muslim women (illustration)
Veiled Muslim women (illustration)Reuters

France's government is drawing up a new set of rules for theaters, after a Paris opera house ejected a woman for wearing a veil during a performance, AFP reported Sunday.

The incident took place when a veiled woman was spotted on the front row of a performance of La Traviata at the Opera Bastille, the opera’s deputy director Jean-Philippe Thiellay told AFP, confirming a media report.

France outlawed the wearing of a niqab (full face veil) - part of the burqa, or full body covering worn by Muslim women - in public in April 2011, citing security concerns as the reason for the ban. Women who wear the veil face a 150 euro ($190) fine.

The woman was sitting just behind the conductor, visible to monitors, wearing a scarf covering her hair and a veil over her mouth and nose during the performance on October 3, according to AFP.

“I was alerted in the second act,” said Thiellay, adding that “some performers said they did not want to sing” if something was not done.

France's ministry of culture said a bill was currently being drafted to remind theatres, museums and other public institutions under its supervision of the rules regarding veils.

The spectator and her companion -- tourists from the Gulf, according to MetroNews -- were asked to leave by an inspector during the interval.

“He told her that in France there is a ban of this nature, asked her to either uncover her face or leave the room. The man asked the woman to get up, they left,” Thiellay told AFP.

“It's never nice to ask someone to leave... But there was a misunderstanding of the law and the lady either had to respect it or leave,” he added.

In January, a French court convicted a young woman for wearing a full-face Islamic veil in public and threw out her bid to have the burqa ban declared unconstitutional.

France was the first country in Europe to outlaw Muslim headgear that hides the face. A parliamentary committee in Belgium later voted to ban the burqa as well. Italy has drafted a similar law