Paris: Algerian actress attacked

Paris: Algerian actress attacked

Police launched a terrorism investigation in Paris yesterday after two men tried to set fire to an Algerian feminist playwright and actress.

The attackers sprayed Rayhana, known only by her first name, with petrol and threw a lit cigarette in her face. The petrol did not ignite, possibly because of the extreme cold.

Rayhana, 45, is appearing in and directing her own play about the oppression of women in Algeria. She was walking to a theatre in a north-eastern suburb of the city when she was insulted in Arabic and attacked. A fortnight ago, she was approached in the same area by two men who said: "We know who you are, you miscreant whore. This is a warning."

Detectives are examining the possibility that she was attacked by a radical Islamist group, although her play is equally critical of the treatment of women by radical Islam and secular authorities in Algeria.

A pressure group for the rights of women of North African origin, Ni Putes, Ni Soumises ("neither whores, nor submisssives"), has called for a demonstration of solidarity with Rayhana outside the theatre tonight.

Following the attack, the playwright staggered into an upmarket restaurant but was refused help. She carried on to the theatre, La Maison des Metallos, and took part in that night's performance. Her sell-out play At My Age, I Still Hide To Have A Smoke, is about a group of women who chat about their lives during a visit to a spa, and features unflattering views of Muslim men.



The prefecture of police confirmed what it called an attempted homicide. A judicial source said the preliminary investigation is being launched under the anti-terrorist section of the brigade criminelle, or crime unit.

Covered in petrol, Rayhana performed her play regardless. She has lived in France since 2000, when she left Algeria fearing for her safety. She told the French media it was the first time she had been assualted since she took refuge in France, after leaving Algeria because of threats from Islamists.

Politicians and Muslim associations have expressed horror at the attack. The Minister of Culture Frédéric Mitterrand expressed sympathy and said he admired Rayhana's courage. The Secretary for Urban Affairs Fadela Amara described the incident was intolerable.

The Muslim association Foi et Pratique also joined in the condemnation of the assault, saying "nothing can prepare us for such acts and nothing can explain them".


Source: RFI, Independent (English), h/t Jihad Watch

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