After The Voice aired on Saturday, her posts on Palestine and the terror attacks in France were soon singled out. Websites criticised her pro-Palestinian stance as well as her posts in support of Tariq Ramadan, the Oxford professor who accused of sexual misconduct. Mennel responded to her critics on Twitter, saying that saying her posts were taken out of context and do not reflect her point of view."
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She seemed to be the embodiment of all the hopes and dreams of French multiculturalist Leftists: a hijab-wearing Muslima singing a song written by a famous Jewish poet. But, as seems always to be the case, there was a catch: she sang altered lyrics in Arabic that turned the song into one that proselytized for Islam:
“She said her message is one of ‘love, of peace and tolerance and the proof of this is to sing Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen – a song that illustrates perfectly the message that I wish to express as an artist.’ But her Arabic-language rendition of Cohen’s song shows she took some artistic licenses with that message, according to the Tribune Juive weekly. Whereas the French-language translation of the song’s first verse was faithful to the English origin, Ibtissem proceeded to sing in Arabic a verse that stripped away its sensual language and unmistakably sexual allusions. The verse was written years ago by a singer from Kuwait, Muhamad Al Hussayn, who is known for setting Islamic proselytizing lyrics to Western pop melodies. It exchanges Cohen’s iconoclastic musings about King David’s lust for Bathsheba and female sexuality with the story of a man who was ‘surrounded by darkness’ until he found God.”
What’s more, she has a history of statements downplaying jihad terror and playing up the fiction of Muslim victimhood in France as well as in Israel. Once again we see that sentiments that are supposed to be held only by a “tiny minority of extremists” are much more common among Muslims than multiculturalist Leftists would like to admit.
Here is Mennel singing “Hallelujah”:
(JTA) — In a deeply divided nation that is still reeling from a toxic presidential election last spring, as well as jihadist and racist attacks, Mennel Ibtissem’s performances offered a rare vision of hope._________________________________________________________
The blue-eyed Muslim woman sang Arabic and French-language renditions of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” on national television in France while wearing a head cover. She was a favorite on the French edition of “The Voice” talent and reality show, seeming to embody the values of coexistence and tolerance in a country with a notorious integration problem.
But in a repeat of recent scandals involving ambassadors for diversity in Europe, Ibtissem’s social media activity showed a different side of her — one that spread pro-Palestinian propaganda, conspiracy theories and accusations that the French state, not jihadists, is responsible for terrorism.
It was that last remark, posted by the 23-year-old singer on social media in 2016, that prompted the TF1 television network to consider disqualifying Ibtissem from the show.
“We cannot keep on the show a person who made illegal statements,“ a network spokesman told television host and journalist Jean-Marc Morandini on Tuesday.
In her 2016 remarks, Ibtissem, the show’s first contender to perform while wearing a Muslim head covering, wrote following the murder of a priest in Saint-Etienne-du Rouvray by an Islamist that “the real terrorist[s] are our government.”
The same year, one day after a jihadist terrorist attack in Nice in which 86 people died, she seemed to peddle a popular conspiracy theory that Muslims are being framed for false-flag attacks.
“It’s becoming a routine: An attack each week!! And sure enough, the ‘terrorist’ takes with him his identity CARD. Of course, when planning a dirty you always take papers! #DontTakeUsForFools,” she wrote on Facebook.
In a separate post in 2016, Ibtissem said her country has “a shitty society,” that she is “sick of the French system” and that she’s “eager to get the hell out of here.”
Henda Ayari, a French feminist and author who grew up in a Muslim family, said L’Affaire Mennel indicates an eagerness in the French media and beyond to seek the semblance of tolerance rather than the real thing.
“Wearing a veil does not make one a saint, modesty needs no veil, beauty needs no pretty face to shine, external beauty does not mean internal one. Never rely on appearances, they’re deceiving,” Ayari wrote Tuesday on Twitter about Ibtissem….
BNVCA also noted a 2015 video of a song she wrote and performed titled “Smile Palestine,” in which she sings of “a life of despair” for the Palestinians amid “slaughter of mothers, fathers, little sisters and little brothers.”
Reacting to the controversy Ibtissem, an English teacher in training who was born in France to a Syrian father and an Algerian mother, wrote on Facebook that her statements about terrorism had been “taken out of context” and “do not reflect any of my views.”
She did not attempt to re-contextualize her remarks, but added that she was born in France.
“I love my country, and of course I wholeheartedly condemn terrorism, which was the reason for my fury: How can you imagine that I would defend the indefensible!” Ibtissem wrote.
She said her message is one of “love, of peace and tolerance and the proof of this is to sing Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen – a song that illustrates perfectly the message that I wish to express as an artist.”
But her Arabic-language rendition of Cohen’s song shows she took some artistic licenses with that message, according to the Tribune Juive weekly. Whereas the French-language translation of the song’s first verse was faithful to the English origin, Ibtissem proceeded to sing in Arabic a verse that stripped away its sensual language and unmistakably sexual allusions.
The verse was written years ago by a singer from Kuwait, Muhamad Al Hussayn, who is known for setting Islamic proselytizing lyrics to Western pop melodies. It exchanges Cohen’s iconoclastic musings about King David’s lust for Bathsheba and female sexuality with the story of a man who was “surrounded by darkness” until he found God.
A Tribune Juive author, in an unsigned op-ed, wrote that the altered version went to the heart of the controversy surrounding Ibtissem.
“To the uninitiated French public, Mennel began to sing a poetic story drawing on Psalms and King David, who ruled a Jewish kingdom in Jerusalem,” the op-ed read. “But to her many followers who speak Arabic, this artist had a very different religious message.”