WATCH: 300 Migrants Storm French Theatre…to Demand Legal Status

Comedie-Francaise
WikiCommons

Between 200 and 300 illegal migrants attempted to storm the Comédie-Française in Paris on Sunday, demanding to speak to the theatre’s deputy director so he could arrange a meeting between them and France’s interior minister Christophe Castaner.

It was at around 9 p.m. that a small group of men tried to enter the theatre, considered one of the oldest active theatres in the world and only a few steps from the famous Louvre galley on the Avenue de l’Opéra.

They were pushed back by security guards, but later returned with more than 200 other migrants, illegal workers, and asylum seekers, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa, as well as open borders activists who coordinated the action, Le Parisien reports.

Police arrived quickly to dispel the protests and fired tear gas grenades at the illegals who, while they stopped trying to break into the theatre, did not disperse, and hung around outside the building playing hand drums and dancing. They finally left after midnight, chanting demands of “papers for all!”

The resident acting troupe of the Comédie-Française was performing Victor Hugo’s Lucrèce Borgia on the night, with the performance continuing during the attempted invasion uninterrupted.

While an unusual venue to seek asylum or legal residency status, the migrants were encouraged by pro-open borders groups La Chapelle Debout (The Standing Chapel) and Sans-Papiers 75 (Without Papers 75), which distributed a leaflet reading: “It is not the man of theatre that we have come to seek but the deputy head [Éric Ruf] appointed directly by those who give the order to hunt us.”

La Chapelle Debout tweeted videos and images from the protest, saying: “Several hundred migrants and people in solidarity show up in front of the Comédie-Française. We want an appointment with Castaner! Need Support now!! Papers for all!”

Abdoulaye, a 35-year-old Malian who had been living and working illegally in France as a cook since 2011, told AFP: “I’ve had enough. I came here for regularisation.”

Another migrant, a 32-year-old Sudanese named as Abdallah, said: “I would like some papers, a place to sleep, and support.”

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