Joker audience flees cinema after man shouts ‘Allahu akbar’ in possible robbery attempt

People reportedly climbed over seats and other moviegoers to escape screening

Ellie Harrison
Tuesday 29 October 2019 16:14
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A Joker screening in Paris descended into chaos after a man shouting “Allahu akbar” caused the cinema audience to flee.

The man, who was shouting the Arabic phrase for “God is great”, was detained by police after the outburst at the Grand Rex cinema on Sunday 27 October.

The incident was reported in French publication Le Parisien, which revealed the 34-year-old man was removed from the Grand Rex cinema and placed under psychiatric observation.

According to a witness who spoke to the paper, the man repeatedly shouted “It’s political!”, which drew laughs from the audience at first until the man stood up, put his hands on his chest and “started yelling Allahu akbar”.

“People panicked, ran to the exits,” the source reportedly said. “Some were crying. A mother was looking for her daughter.”

Another witness reportedly told the publication people were climbing over seats to escape while others were on the floor and being stepped over.

The director of the Grand Rex told the Hollywood Reporter that the suspect, working with an accomplice, staged the incident on purpose in order to steal valuables left behind by fleeing audience members.

"They were two thieves looking for a way to take people's phones and bags," he said. "Apparently they had already used the same tactic once on a train."

He added that the cinema is pressing charges against the suspect.

Earlier this month, an audience at a cinema in Long Beach, California fled the cinema after false reports of a shooting.

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Joker, starring Joaquin Phoenix as Batman's sadistic nemesis, has proved controversial for its portrayal of violence and mental illness. There have been heightened security in response to concerns surrounding its release.

Police in cities across the US, including New York and Las Vegas, have stepped up patrols at cinemas showing the movie and many venues have banned masks and toy weapons at screenings.

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