A man was arrested after screaming “Allahu Akbar” during a screening of the film “Joker” in a Paris cinema, causing other audience members to flee in terror.
The man screamed the phrase, “Allahu Akbar,” an Arabic phrase translating to “God is great,” after multiple interruptions of the “Joker” screening at the Grand Rex cinema, a witness told Le Parisien:
In the middle of the film, a guy, who was accompanied by another man, shouted “It’s political!” He repeated the sentence at least six times. At first, people laughed, then some asked him to shut up… There, he got up from his chair and shouted, “Allahu Akbar.” People then got up in a panic, ran to the exits, but the doors were blocked. Some were crying. A mother was looking for her daughter.
Victor, another witness, described the scene as “total panic,” with many people scrambling over seats in attempt to get to the exit. Their eagerness to get away is no surprise, as the phrase “Allahu Akbar” casts terror into the heart of many, due to the fact that it is most commonly associated nowadays with Islamic terror attacks.
The French capital has been subject to multiple Islamic attacks in the last 5 years since the European migrant crisis began and ISIS began to rise in relevance.
In 2015, 90 people were killed in France’s deadliest terror attack, with multiple incidents taking place across restaurants, music venues, and other public areas. 4 people were stabbed to death at a Paris police headquarters just this month by a radical Islamist employee.
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The suspect was tackled by security guards and some of the cinemagoers, but managed to get away. He was eventually captured by police in the 10th Arrondissement close by, and was arrested on suspicion of “apologising for terrorism.” The theater was evacuated after the screening of “Joker” had finished, with bomb sniffing dogs confirming there were no explosives.
The owner of the Grand Rex told The Hollywood Reporter that the screaming of “Allahu Akbar” was nothing more than an exploitation of the fears of ordinary citizens, not a planned terror attack.
“They were two thieves looking for a way to take people’s phones and bags. Apparently they had already used the same tactic once on a train,” he said. The owner also saw fit to blame the fans of “Joker” for what happened, claiming that “the movie attracts a specific kind of viewer, notably people who are against the system,” adding that “there have been minor incidents in other theaters.”
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Last week, “Joker” became the number 1 R-rated film of all time, smashing Deadpool 2’s record $785 million record, and is expected to surpass $900 million in takings when its theatrical run is over.