UK Deputy PM: Paris Opéra is ‘ridiculous’

UK Deputy PM: Paris Opéra is ‘ridiculous’


norman lebrecht

October 23, 2014

Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister, sounded off today about the ejection of a woman in a niqab from a performance at the Paris Opéra.

Clegg told LBC Radio: ‘She’s just in the audience. That’s ridiculous to stop it. What are you going to do next, throw people out for having tattoos?… I do not want this country to become like France where you start prescribing by law what people can wear.’

carnival mask


  • Milka says:

    One can only think of Mr. Clegg as an idiot playing to the dim wits in the gallery.

    • sylvain vasseur says:

      Cheap and ignorant France-bashing comments from Nick Clegg. The law in France prohibits wearing a full face veil in public places. You cannot get more public than the front row of an Opera house (where the lady in question was sitting). The lady was given the opportunity to uncover her face but chose to leave instead.
      Is Nick Clegg suggesting French laws should be ignored in France ?
      As far as I know Middle-East countries have very definite laws about public behaviour which many westerners have inadvertently fallen foul of, resulting in them getting prison sentences. France is a far cry from that.
      So please Nick Clegg : in the future, think harder before resorting to such disappointing comments for a man in your position.

      • Theodore McGuiver says:

        So please Nick Clegg : in the future, think harder before resorting to such disappointing comments for a man in your position.

        This comment could apply to anything he’s ever said in public, full stop. The man’s an opportunistic idiot.

      • “As far as I know Middle-East countries have very definite laws about public behaviour which many westerners have inadvertently fallen foul of, resulting in them getting prison sentences.”

        Can give some details on what you know? I’m having trouble finding examples of prison sentences.

        The last American that I recall making the news for violating a public behavior law in Saudi Arabia was Michael Jackson and he didn’t end up in prison.

  • Susan Trexel says:

    Why is this story illustrated with a photograph of someone wearing a carnival mask, which, under the terms of the French law, is permitted?

  • Burton says:

    I find it very telling that one opts to invoke ‘the definite laws’ of ‘Middle-East countries’ as justification for the French approach to regulating public dress styles. So are those ‘definite laws’ models of inspiration? You state that ‘France is a far cry from that’. Do you mean solely in terms of degrees of intolerance and severity of punishment? If so, it’s pretty weak tea. By your words the parallels seem ever more apparent. Also, your various references to Mr. Clegg as ‘an idiot playing to the dimwits’,’an opportunistic idiot’ etc. are rather poor excuses for argument. Surely you gents together can do better than that!

  • milka says:

    Burton is playing games…one would have to
    be a fool not to realize the whole
    little scenario was a set up . To think for a minute that a couple sitting in the most expensive seats ,visible to all
    were not aware of the law of the land
    concerning the niqab is to believe the moon is of green cheese.There is a reason for this law..and a very good one which Burton chooses to ignore
    to bolster his weak word playing
    game. The couple should have been arrested in testing this law.

  • David Boxwell says:

    Nick Clegg thinks “lay-ee-see-tay” is a kind of herbal tea.

  • Frank says:

    The French press reported that the couple were not residents of France and were on vacation. Since the law was passed in 2010 it has been sometimes tested by protesters with little effect. The issue for many here was how she passed through security at the Palais Garnier where they still check handbags, briefcases, etc. Since the Paris Opera, like the Louvre, etc., is a public place, she should have been informed of the problem at the time of entry into the building. I suspect it will be done in the future.

  • Chico says:

    Insularity at its very best.

  • Julian Rowlands says:

    “Please can I have some muslim votes” bleats the anti-democratic political prostitute rapidly approaching his sell-by date.
    France has done SO much better than us in the UK with their laïcité. Seperation of church/mosque/synagogue/whatever and state. Here we have the ghastly CofE and the dreadful “religious schools” run by any nutter who can fill in the application form in crayon. We are a laughing stock and France has largely got it right.

  • Burton says:

    Afraid you’re missing the point Milky. Fools, moons and green cheese aside – nice work! – it’s not about who was aware of what or individual intentions; unlike you I can’t be certain of any of that. It’s about the petty, demeaning, self-defeating approach we are witnessing here at the PO. To emulate this would be a travesty. No thanks!.

  • milka says:

    Well Burty, another dance about that doesn’t work . There seems to have been a polite exchange and the husband speaking for the wife and himself decided to leave .If they were foreigners visiting they would have
    been counciled before leaving for France on the now 4yr.old law that drew world wide attention at its passing.The husband and wife would have to been living under a rock in
    isolation not to know this . It is the law of the land .If they were French citizens
    they would have known the law .
    It was overwhelmingly passed for many reasons.
    You have every right to indulge your self
    in being outraged by the law.
    but it would have been a lot easier if the husband
    told the wife — “Honey, we are going
    to the opera so leave your niqab home “. But no ., a test had to be made , the law held . It allows you to wax poetic on the human condition .

  • LucaM says:

    It’s not Paris’ opera, it’s the law. If you want to change the situation, press to change the law, don’t blame the Opera.
    Besides, it’s ridiculous that they wake up now when the law was approved in 2011.

  • Burton says:

    All fair points. No wish to single out Paris Opera here. It’s the entire approach to prescribing public dress wear that inescapably leads to such absurd scenarios and collisions, especially in a diverse nation. Very little good is likely to emerge from constraints that are perceived by many as provocative and discriminatory.. No doubt there’s plenty of intolerance to go around. Unwise to elevate and dignify it by enacting legislation.

  • Greg Hlatky says:

    A niqab should be excellent at muffling the sound of coughing or sneezing that would cause a sensitive artiste like Michael Tilson Thomas to throw a fit and storm off the stage. Everyone, men and women, should be forced to wear one of suitable weight and thickness during concerts.

    • Anonymus says:

      Alternatively, a heavy curtain between the audience and the stage would have the same beneficial effect. Basically one niqab for the whole audience together. Finally no disturbances anymore. I must say, these mullahs are smart…

  • Milka says:

    One may look upon the French law concerning the wearing of the niqab as bringing pathetically conditioned or enslaved women
    into the dim light of the middle ages ..still a long way to go . If Burton was
    forced to wear every time he went outside a blanket covering his head with just eyes cutout he
    would be singing a different tune.
    It is comfortable to go on about “provocative and discriminatory” especially from the side lines of free choice .
    The niqab is about “owning ” another
    human being…

  • Burton says:

    Ah – if only the rest of the world saw things as we did everything would be so much better. Sadly, that option is not on the table. So how to proceed? By policing the conduct of others to insure maximum compliance with the prescribed standard…according to some. (Not unlike the way certain self-appointed monitors of this site seek to ensure absolute conformity.) Ban the niqab in public and strike a blow against slavery! Not surprisingly,that approach soon collapses of its weight due mainly to internal contradictions, especially in relatively tolerant societies. I mean, how naive, sanctimonious and fatuous can you get? Take a glance at some of the above comments for a taste!

  • Milka says:

    How naive ,sanctimonious,fatuous
    can one get.?.take a glance at the Burton comments……..

    • Burton says:

      Milky and I may disagree but I’ll concede his cogent, well reasoned positions are very powerful. Sort of an angrier version of ‘Nah nah nah nah nah.’ Well done sir!

  • Novagerio says:

    Pardon the insolence, but a woman following an extreme tribal dress-code inside a european capital’s opera house sounds a bit…not only culturally off-side but also suspiciously menacing – at least concerning security measures. In matters of security, there’s no difference between an opera house and an airport! 😀