Museum Head Apologizes for Treatment of Woman Wearing Islamic Veil

August 27, 2008

Author: Staff Writer

Source: Reuters

The head of one of the most prestigious museums in Venice apologized Wednesday to a Muslim woman who had been asked by a guard to leave the building because she was wearing a veil over her face.

The episode, which has kindled controversy in the Italian media and arguments between politicians, occurred Sunday in Venice's Ca' Rezzonico museum, which houses 18th-century Venetian art.

"I'm sorry for what happened and if she ever wants to return to our museum, she will be more than welcome," the director, Filippo Pedrocco, said by telephone from Venice.

The woman, visiting the museum with her husband and children, had cleared security when she entered the building.

When she reached the second floor, a room guard told her she must remove her niqab, or facial veil, which left only the eyes visible, or leave.

"The room guard was overzealous," Pedrocco said. "He should not have done it. She already passed security and his only duty was to guarantee the safety of the artwork in his room."