South African opera star Pretty Yende on Tuesday accused French customs agents of treating her with “outrageous racial discrimination” at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport, a claim strongly contested by police and airport sources.
“Police brutality is real for someone who looks like me,” the soprano, who is black, wrote on her Instagram account a day after arriving for a string of performances in Paris.
Yende, 36, said she was “traumatized” after being “stripped and searched like a criminal offender” at the airport.
“I am one of the very very lucky ones to be alive to see the day today even with ill-treatment and outrageous racial discrimination and psychological torture and very offensive racial comments in a country that I’ve given so much of my heart and virtue to,” she wrote.
Yende did not say why she was pulled aside for questioning, but a French police source said the singer had arrived from Milan on a South African passport without a visa.
“At no moment were there any incidents,” the source said, adding that Yende had not been asked to remove her clothes.
She was released an hour and a half later with a visa allowing her to enter French territory, an airport source said, adding that Yende was held for “verification” purposes that had nothing to do with the colour of her skin.
Yende, who was born in the small South African town of Piet Retief, has enjoyed a meteoric rise over the past decade, starring in operas from Vienna and Berlin to Barcelona and Los Angeles.
Anti-racism protesters face off with Paris police after covering Gallieni statueFrench anti-racism activists draped a black cloth over the statue of a colonial commander in central Paris on Thursday, prompting three arrests and ... World News
Paris racism victim: Chelsea fans 'picked on me because of my skin color'Souleymane, 33, was victim of a racist incident involving Chelsea football fans in the Paris metro Sports
Protests over security law as France reels from police brutalityDozens of rallies are planned Saturday against a new French law that would restrict sharing images of police, only days after the country was shaken ... World News