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27 Aug, 2008 12:19

Muslim outrage: woman in veil thrown out of Italian museum

Muslim outrage: woman in veil thrown out of Italian museum

A museum guard has triggered a storm of controversy in Italy after he refused entry to an Islamic woman wearing a veil. The director of Venice's Ca' Rezzonico museum has apologised to the woman, promising the man will be disciplined – but some

The woman from Saudi Arabia, who hasn’t been named, was visiting the museum with her husband and children and had already cleared security when the incident occurred, Reuters reports.

But on the second floor a guard told her to remove the veil or leave the museum. Refusing to follow his demand, she left the building.

The museum’s director, Filippo Pedrocco, said that the guard was in the wrong as she had already passed security.

Italian anti-terrorism laws dating from the 1970s ban the wearing of face coverings in public, but they are rarely enforced in cases of Islamic veils.

While the incident has provoked outrage among Italy’s Muslims, some in the Veneto region, where there has been tension between long-time residents and Islamic immigrants, have treated the guard as a hero.

In the Italian media, centre-left and centre-right politicians have argued about whether the guard’s actions were justified.

Giancarlo Gentilini, Deputy Mayor of the city of Treviso, north of Venice, said the guard should be “given an award and not punished”.

Senator Roberto Castelli, a member of the anti-immigration Northern League, asked the Justice Minister to make sure the guard was not disciplined or sacked “for doing his duty and making sure the law was respected”.