LAST_UPDATESun, 20 May 2018 4pm

French-Muslim Singer On 'The Voice' Quits Show After Backlash Over Pro-Palestine Comments

On February 4th, France was introduced to the beautiful singing of Mennel Ibtissem, who performed an English-Arabic rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah on the country’s version of the popular television show The Voice.

She became an overnight sensation after gaining the attention of all four judges, and winning the hearts of not only the French people, but netizens all over the world.

French media praised her The Voice debut, describing it as “sensational” and “a moment of compassion” while one judge described her as a “rare combination of external and internal beauty.”

Even Brigitte Macron, the country’s first lady, was impressed by the singer who was of Syrian-French heritage, stating “Hallelujah in Arabic, only on this program can you find such a beautiful mix.”

Many had predicted that Ibtissem could be in the running to be the show’s winner – until a French newspaper uncovered a series of controversial posts on her social media.

According to a report by Nice-Matin, Ibtissem wrote a conspiracy theory about the 2016 Nice terror attack, when Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel ran over celebrants of the Bastille Day with a lorry and killed 86 people.

She claimed the attack was a ‘conspiracy’ and ‘It has become routine, an attack every week’. She also suspected the authorities, “and always, when they are planning a dirty move, rest assured, they never forget to take their ID card” before ending the statement with a #PrenezNousPourDesCons hashtag, meaning ‘they treat us like idiots’.

When an elderly priest was killed after a few men barged into a church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray a few weeks after the Nice attack, Ibtissem said: “The real terrorist is our government.”

She also expressed support for comedian Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala who was known for making anti-Semitic and racist comments.

Just as her meteoric rise to fame, the revealing of the comments seemed to have stained her reputation just as fast, with many considering her past statements to be insensitive to victims of the Nice terror attack.

Many resorted to pressuring producers of The Voice to remove the mixed heritage singer from the competition.

In response to the backlash, Ibtissem uploaded an apology video on her Facebook page, in both English and French, and announced that she was leaving the television show.

“I participated in the show with the intention of gathering people, not dividing them. I have faith in humanity and people’s kindness, in a future full of love, peace and tolerance.

“These last days were difficult for me. A lot of tension has hindered my desire to spread love, peace and tolerance.

“I have never meant to hurt anyone and the idea that I would do it on purpose, hurts me a lot,” Ibtissem said in her video.

Even though she is no longer a participant in The Voice, she insisted to her fans that that was not the end of her musical career, and will continue to spread her message of positivity via her music.

-- mD