An irate restaurant owner in the Paris suburb of Tremblay-en-France is facing an investigation after chasing two veiled Muslim women out of his premises on Saturday after telling them “all Muslims are terrorists”.
His actions, caught on video, provoked a furious response, not least on social media, and have prompted prosecutors to open an inquiry in racial discrimination.
The incident, filmed by one of the two women and posted online, shows the other saying: “We don't want to be served by racists”.
The restaurateur responds: “Racists like me don't plant bombs and don't kill people.”
He added that “terrorists are Muslim and all Muslims are terrorists. I don't want people like you in my place. Now you know it you can get out”.
The boss of “Le Cenacle” restaurant later apologised for his actions as calls to boycott his establishment flooded social media sites alongside negative reviews.
Surrounded by several police the owner, named Jean-Baptiste said: “I blew a fuse and I am sorry. I had a friend who died at the Bataclan and I mixed everything up.
“The things I said I don’t really think them.”
On Sunday angry members of the local Muslim community challenged the restaurant owner over his words with one saying: “You are surrounded by Muslims. If all Muslims were terrorists would you be alive right now”?
A source close to the investigation said that the proprietor had left his home along with his family for security reasons.
France has been hit by a string of Islamist attacks over the past 18 months, raising questions over security failures and resulting in a spike in Islamophobia.
The government is trying to keep a lid on tensions and on Sunday Laurence Rossignol, the minister for Families and Women’s Rights said she had asked the organisation Dilcra, which fights against racism and anti-Semitism to look into the incident.
In recent weeks the country has been embroiled in a divisive row over the full-body swim wear known as the burqini after several mayors banned the clothing on beaches.