Actors rehearsing 'Jihad' play cause security scare in France


French police officers on patrol on 8 November 2017Image copyright
EPA

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A French police chief praised the “responsiveness of passengers” for reporting suspicious behaviour

A Belgian comedy theatre group on tour in France has caused a major security alert after practising their lines on a train journey from Paris to Troyes.

The satirical play in question, Jihad, tells the story of three young people who are preparing to “go to Syria” to wage “jihad” against “unbelievers”.

A worried passenger tipped off the police, unaware that the group of four were actors practising their lines.

Prior to the train’s arrival on Thursday afternoon, the station in north-eastern France was evacuated.

The actors were let go after an identity check and a search of their belongings. They were carrying a fake Kalashnikov rifle – a prop.

A passenger called the police after he heard the group refer to jihad, Belgium, and bombings.

Troyes station was evacuated and cordoned off and 30 heavily-armed police in bullet-proof vests waited for the four actors to get off the train.

‘A little scared’

One of the actors, Theo Askolovitch, told news website Mashable.FR that the actors were unaware of the situation they had caused.

“We were a little scared, we thought there was a terrorist in the station,” Mr Askolovitch said.

Mr Askolovitch said that as he was getting off the train he asked a police officer what was going on and the officer shouted at him to not move.

The show went on – the actors performed to a 500-seat capacity theatre on Thursday evening in the nearby town of La Chapelle-Saint-Luc.

Local police commissioner Benjamin Daubigny, who was among police at the station in Troyes, told French television station France 3 that despite the incident being a false alarm, he wanted to “salute the responsiveness of passengers” for reporting behaviour they thought could be suspicious.


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