A hijab-wearing contestant of the French version of the popular television programme The Voice stepped down Wednesday after facing calls to leave the programme after tweets surfaced of her calling the Nice attack of 2016 a government conspiracy and calling the French government terrorists.
Hijab-wearing 22-year-old Mennel Ibtissem inspired a flurry of headlines after her appearance on the reality programme earlier this month singing a version of the Leonard Cohen song “Hallelujah” in English and Arabic.
Now, after several tweets were unearthed showing Mennel’s sympathies for Islamic extremism and denial of the Nice attack, Ibtissem quit the programme Wednesday night, announcing her intention in an online video blog. Her decision came after several complaints to the broadcaster behind The Voice to drop her from competition, Le Parisien reports.
In August 2016, Ibtissem claimed that the French government were the “real terrorists” and other posts have shown her anti-Israel, pro-Palestine views.
One of the groups who protested to the continued inclusion of Mennel on the programme was Promenade des Anges: 14 July 2016, a Nice-based organisation supporting victims of the 2016 terror attack.
The group released a statement condemning the remarks saying, “it is unacceptable to question what we have experienced. We were terrified, our own bodies were affected and/or lost our loved ones.”
Ibtissem apologised for her past remarks on Twitter writing, “The night of the bombings in Nice, I had family on the Promenade des Anglais and I was shocked, upset, and did not understand why this attack could not be prevented by the authorities.”
TF1, the broadcaster behind the show, organised a crisis meeting earlier this week according to French broadcast journalist Jean-Marc Morandini.
The broadcaster commented on the matter saying, “We discovered the messages on Sunday, as had the general public, so we wanted to study the situation intelligently and not make hasty decisions without having all the elements,” and added this it “cannot keep a person who makes remarks against the law of the Republic in the programme.”
The revelations follow a similar story in Germany earlier this year in which a Syrian migrant who was featured in a documentary on a children’s channel aimed at kids between the ages of three and 13 was found to have radical Islamic extremist sympathies.
Nineteen-year-old Syrian Diaa, who originally claimed to be 17, was shown to have ‘liked’ radical Islamic hate preachers on Facebook and even attempted to enter a contest to join them on a trip to Mecca.
The German television channel that broadcast the documentary featuring Diaa was later slammed again for releasing a short film on the internet featuring young men from migrant backgrounds learning how to remove a girl’s bra.