In a shocking incident, a screening of Hollywood movie ‘Joker’ in Paris was disrupted on Sunday night after a man yelled Islamic slogan “Allahu Akbar” in an alleged attempt to spark panic in order to stage a robbery.
According to reports, the shocking incident occurred after a 34-year-old man shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ at the Grand Rex cinema on Sunday 27 October where the recent Hollywood blockbuster movie Joker was being screened. According to a witness, the man first started repeatedly shouting “It’s political!”, which initially drew laughs from the audience. Soon other audience members asked him to “shut up” while others began to panic, the witness said.
After the shouts of “It’s political,” the man stood up, placed his hands on his chest and started yelling “Allahu akbar!,” or ‘God is great’ in Arabic, said the witness.
“People panicked, ran to the exits,” the source reportedly said. “Some were crying. A mother was looking for her daughter,” he added. Another witness reportedly said that the people were climbing over seats to escape while others were on the floor and being stepped over.
Reportedly, his actions caused panic and chaos inside the cinema as people scrambled from their seats and made for the exit, as someone in the audience claimed the man had a gun, which later turned out to be incorrect.
Speaking to the media, the director of the Grand Rex said that the suspect, working with another accomplice, staged the incident on purpose in order to rob valuables left behind by fleeing audience members. “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. He added that the cinema is pressing charges against the suspect.
As jihadi terrorists often chant ‘Allahu Akbar’ before blowing themselves up with suicide bombs or attacking people with firearms and other weapons, the Islamic expression nowadays creates panic when shouted in public places. The suspects wanted to take advantage of this fear among people for the expression.
When the man tried to leave the theatre, he was apprehended by several moviegoers and a security guard, although he eventually managed to escape in the chaos. But one person managed to snatch his jacket, which contained a phone and a pass bearing the man’s name. The man was later arrested by Paris police, and he didn’t have any weapon with him. The theatre was evacuated after the screening of the movie had ended, and Paris police sent bomb squad and sniffer dogs to search for weapons or explosives, but no suspicious item was found.