Hundreds of undocumented migrants attempt to storm Parisian theatre

The protestors demanded to speak with Interior Minister Christophe Castaner

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner arrives to attend a hearing before the Laws Commision of the French National Assembly in Paris on December 3, 2018 following the violences during the Yellow Vests (Gilets Jaunes) demonstrations. / AFP / Christophe ARCHAMBAULT
Powered by automated translation

A new cycle of protests by undocumented migrants in France has been threatened after a group staged a high-profile flash mob outside one of the leading cultural venues.

Hundreds of sans-papiers tried to force their way into the Comédie-Française in Paris on Sunday evening to demand an audience with Interior Minister Christophe Castaner.

Activists have now called for a solidarity march in the centre of the city on Wednesday.

The incident began when a small group of migrants tried to enter the theatre’s compound, which lies in the heart of the city, before being repulsed by guards, French media reported.

The group was then joined by around 200 others, most of whom were believed to be from sub-Saharan Africa, who tried to make their way into the world-famous theatre, which was playing Victor Hugo’s 1833 play, Lucrèce Borgia.

The migrants hoped to interrupt the play to speak with the theatre’s general director, Eric Ruf.

A leaflet sent out by two pro-migrant groups, La Chapelle debout and Sans-papiers 75, who organised the demonstration said the intention was to ask Mr Ruf to act as an intermediary to set up a meeting with the interior minister. The organisers said 500 migrants gathered for the protest.

“We are here for the [theatre’s director] appointed directly by those who give the order to chase us,” the leaflet read.

Images of the protest uploaded to social media showed police surrounding the Comédie-Française. Le Parisien reported that the police fired a tear gas grenade at the migrants as they sat down in front of the theatre.

The newspaper said the protesters chanted “des papiers pour tous” (papers for everyone) but the play was not interrupted.

Emmanuel Macron’s government introduced a controversial immigration bill earlier this year, which tightened rules around asylum, shortening application deadlines and doubling detention time limits for illegal immigrants.

Since its adoption into law, the number of undocumented migrants deported from the country has risen by 20 per cent.


Read more:

Scuffles as Brussels anti-migration rally draws thousands

Spain far-right party set to gain first parliamentary seat in Andalusia