Watching Joaquin Phoenix play Joker certainly does keep you on your toes. But there is something in the world of Islamophobia that keeps people on alert even more — the words Allahu Akbar. What would happen if these two things occurred at the same time? Chaos.
That's exactly what happened during the screening of the film at the Grand Rex cinema in Paris after a man shouted "Allahu Akbar" aka "God is great," prompting the audience to hastily flee the area. The theater, which normally holds 500, had about 200 people watching the film at the time of the incident, according to Hollywood Reporter.
The man was eventually detained by the police on Oct. 27 and has since been placed under psychiatric observation.
According to a witness, the 34-year-old man repeatedly shouted "it's political" at first. He then stood up, put his hands on his chest and "started yelling Allahu Akbar," according to The Independent.
"People panicked, ran to the exits," the source reportedly said. "Some were crying. A mother was looking for her daughter."
"This is Islamophobia"
In a statement to Hollywood Reporter, the director of the cinema said the suspect, who was working with an accomplice, staged the incident in a bid to steal personal items left behind by audience members.
"They were two thieves looking for a way to take people's phones and bags. Apparently they had already used the same tactic once on a train," he said and added that the cinema is pressing charges against the suspect.
Islamophobia 101: When "Allahu Akbar" is synonymous with "terrorism"
The phrase "Allahu Akbar" has previously been used by non-Muslims to arouse fear among the public. The Islamic phrase, which is used by millions of Muslims around the world every single day, has also shamefully turned into a checklist item when identifying terrorism.
In 2017, nine Belgian men were kicked out of a Ryanair flight after shouting "Allahu Akbar" to cause a false bomb scare. Following the incident, all passengers were evacuated from the plane. That same year, another incident saw a man drive his truck down a bicycle lane near the World Trade Center in New York City while reportedly shouting the phrase as well, killing eight people. At the time, the incident was being investigated as a terrorist attack due to the use of the Islamic phrase, a lazy judgment greatly advanced by Western media outlets in the wake of every attack committed by non-whites.
In October 2017, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock opened fire on a crowd of 22,000 people during a Las Vegas festival, killing at least 58 people and injuring more than 500 others. The horrific incident was described as the worst mass shooting in modern American history — but it wasn't called terrorism. Investigators even started suggesting that the shooter suffered from psychological issues, as Muslims began questioning why the "lone wolf" shooter wasn't labeled a "terrorist." Was it because he didn't say "Allahu Akbar"? Was it because he wasn't Muslim?
"Only in America can whiteness prevent the man who conducted the deadliest mass shooting in American history from being called a terrorist," as Shaun King, an American civil rights activist, once put it.