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France: Female Algerian playwright attacked by men who "insulted her in Arabic" and tried to burn her with gasoline

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01/16/2010 08:01 PM
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France: Female Algerian playwright attacked by men who "insulted her in Arabic" and tried to burn her with gasoline
[link to www.rfi.fr]

An investigation into an attack in Paris on the Algerian actress and playwright Rayhana has been handed over to anti-terrorist police. The investigators suspect the attack was linked to Rayhana's play, A mon âge, je me cache encore pour fumer, which focuses on the treatment of women in Algeria.

The 45-year-old was attacked on Tuesday night outside the theatre in Paris where her play is showing. Two men insulted her in Arabic and poured petrol over her. They then threw a cigarette at her, which failed to ignite.

The prefecture of police confirmed what it called an attempted homicide. A judicial source said the preliminary investigation is being launched under the anti-terrorist section of the brigade criminelle, or crime unit.

Covered in petrol, Rayhana performed her play regardless. She has lived in France since 2000, when she left Algeria fearing for her safety. She told the French media it was the first time she had been assualted since she took refuge in France, after leaving Algeria because of threats from Islamists.

Politicians and Muslim associations have expressed horror at the attack. The Minister of Culture Frédéric Mitterrand expressed sympathy and said he admired Rayhana's courage. The Secretary for Urban Affairs Fadela Amara described the incident was intolerable.

The Muslim association Foi et Pratique also joined in the condemnation of the assault, saying "nothing can prepare us for such acts and nothing can explain them".

The French Society of Dramatic Authors and Composers says it is worried that freedom of expression is under threat in France.

The feminist movement Ni putes ni soumises will hold a demonstration tomorrow morning in front of the threatre.
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