First contestant to wear head covering on ‘The Voice France’ wows judges

Mennel wore a colorful turban on the show instead of the more-traditional hijab.
Updated 06 February 2018
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First contestant to wear head covering on ‘The Voice France’ wows judges

JEDDAH: French-Syrian singer Mennel has become the subject of huge media and online attention following her appearance in the blind auditions of the French version of popular talent show “The Voice.”
Mennel, 22, is the first contestant to wear a headscarf for religious reasons on “The Voice France,” and she astonished audience and judges alike with her English- and Arabic-language rendition of talent-show staple, Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”
Mennel is a master’s degree student who hopes to become a professor of English. She said singing is a liberating experience for her and she finds music offers her an emotional release.
Mennel dedicated Saturday’s performance to her parents.
Although all judges expressed an interest in coaching her, she chose Lebanese-born English singer and songwriter, Mika, as her coach.
In an interview with “Le Figaro,” Mennel defended her choice of wearing a colorful turban on the show instead of the more-traditional hijab, calling it her “signature style.”
“I am a Muslim so we can say that it is a way of wearing a veil in a more modern way,” she said. “But that’s mostly part of my look. You will never see me without it.”
Mennel has a Syrian-Turkish father and a Moroccan-Algerian mother and lives in Besançon, in the east of France.
“For me, ‘The Voice’ is an opportunity to express myself and discover who I really am. I have watched the show for several years and each time, I would say to myself, ‘One day, it will be me. Maybe.’ Then I was spotted and now I’m living my dream,” she said.
Mennel had 26,700 followers on Instagram before her audition. That number has almost doubled, with 51,500 fans at the time of writing.


Indonesia woman irked by mosque noise convicted of blasphemy

Updated 21 August 2018
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Indonesia woman irked by mosque noise convicted of blasphemy

  • Prosecutors said the 44-year-old defendant violated the criminal code by committing blasphemy against Islam
  • The maximum sentence for blasphemy is two years

MEDAN, Indonesia: An Indonesian court has sentenced a woman who complained about a noisy mosque to 18 months in prison for blasphemy.
The ethnic Chinese woman, Meiliana, burst into tears as presiding Judge Wahyu Prasetyo Wibowo announced the sentence Tuesday. She was taken from the court in handcuffs.
Prosecutors said the 44-year-old defendant violated the criminal code by committing blasphemy against Islam, the dominant faith in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation.
Mobs burned and ransacked at least 14 Buddhist temples throughout Tanjung Balai, a port town on Sumatra, in a July 2016 riot following reports of Meiliana’s complaint about a mosque’s noisy loudspeakers.
The woman’s lawyer, Ranto Sibarani, said the sentence would be appealed. A conservative group, Islamic Community Forum, said Meilana’s sentence was too light.
The maximum sentence for blasphemy is two years.
Indonesia’s Constitution guarantees freedom of speech and religion but in recent years blasphemy cases have been filed against those perceived as offending Islam. The overwhelming majority end with guilty verdicts.
Last year, the minority Christian and ethnic Chinese governor of Jakarta, the capital, was convicted of blasphemy and imprisoned for two years after massive street protests over comments seized upon by his political opponents.
Judges imposed the sentence despite prosecutors downgrading the blasphemy charge to a lesser offense.