French-Syrian contestant of ‘Voice France’ causes outrage with ‘terror tweets’

Mennel
Updated 07 February 2018
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French-Syrian contestant of ‘Voice France’ causes outrage with ‘terror tweets’

JEDDAH: It was her voice that first landed French-Syrian singer Mennel in the news.
The first contestant ever to wear a headscarf on the French version of popular TV talent show “The Voice” impressed the audience and judges alike with her English-, French- and Arabic-language rendition of talent-show staple, Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” in the show’s blind auditions, which screened last week.
However, her popularity has led to less-than-welcome scrutiny of her past social media activity. On Sunday, people began to draw attention to posts Mennel wrote in the aftermath of the terror attack in Nice on July 14, 2016, when 86 people were killed and hundreds injured as a truck deliberately plowed into the crowd during Bastille Day celebrations.
“It’s good it has become a routine, one attack a week! And to always remain faithful the ‘terrorist’ took his identity papers with him. It’s true that, when you’re planning a dirty move, you definitely don’t forget to take your papers,” she wrote the following day.
On Aug. 1, 2016, after the police announced they had identified the Tunisian Mohammed Lahouaiej as the driver of the truck, she added, “Our government are the real terrorists.”
Mennel’s newfound fame has now been accompanied by newfound exposure for her past tweets. And, predictably, outrage has followed, with many calling on the show’s producers to disqualify the 22-year-old singer, who was born in France to a Syrian-Turkish father and a Moroccan-Algerian mother.
Others, though, have questioned whether a white, non-Muslim contestant would have been subjected to the same level of scrutiny involved in trawling through two years of social media posts.
Mennel attempted to answer her critics, saying that her post-Nice posts have been taken out of context and do not reflect her true thoughts and feelings about her homeland.
“I was born in Besançon; I love France, I love my country. I obviously condemn terrorism firmly. That’s the reason for my anger. How could I even imagine defending the indefensible?” she said, adding “I advocate a message of love, peace, and tolerance, the proof is in my choice to sing Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. This song perfectly illustrates the message I hope to transmit as an artist.”
Late Tuesday night, Mennel posted on Facebook that some of her relatives were in Nice on the night of the attack, close to where the truck drove into the crowd, and that she “was shocked, upset, and did not understand why this attack could not be prevented by the authorities,” adding that she apologized for the “shock” her messages may have caused and stressing that “two years later” she can see the “lack of reflection” in them.
Whether her explanations will convince the show’s producers remains to be seen.


Taiwan’s ‘selfie queen’ Gigi Wu dies after ravine fall

Updated 22 January 2019
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Taiwan’s ‘selfie queen’ Gigi Wu dies after ravine fall

  • The social media star fell down a ravine in Taiwan’s Yushan national park on Saturday
  • She used a satellite phone to tell friends of the fate that had befallen her

TAIPEI: Taiwanese rescue teams were trying Tuesday to retrieve the body of a dead hiker who became famous on social media for taking selfies on top of mountain peaks dressed in a bikini.
Gigi Wu — dubbed the “Bikini Climber” by fans — used a satellite phone on Saturday to tell friends she had fallen down a ravine in Taiwan’s Yushan national park and badly injured herself.
Rescue helicopters struggled to reach her because of bad weather and officials eventually located her lifeless body on Monday.
“The weather conditions in the mountains are not good, we have asked our rescuers to move the body to a more open space and after the weather clears we will make a request for a helicopter to bring the body down,” Lin Cheng-yi, from the Nantou County Fire and Rescue Services, told reporters.
Officials said Wu had told friends she was unable to move the lower half of her body after a fall of some 20-30 meters (65-100 feet) but was able to give her coordinates.
She is the latest in a string of social media adventure seekers who have met an untimely end.
Last week, the bodies of an Indian couple were found at the bottom of a popular overlook in California’s Yosemite National Park after hikers alerted officials to their camera equipment at the top of the cliff.
New Taipei City native Wu, 36, built up a sizeable social media following through photos of herself at the top of mountains dressed in bikinis.
She usually wore hiking clothes to scale the mountains, only changing into a bikini once she reached the top.
In an interview with local channel FTV last year, she said she had scaled more than 100 peaks in four years.
“I put on a bikini in each one of the 100 mountains. I only have around 97 bikinis so I accidentally repeated some,” she said.
When asked why she did it, she replied: “It just looks so beautiful, what’s not to like?“
While Taiwan is a largely tropical country, it boasts a spine of towering peaks down its middle that regularly top 3,000 meters. In the winter, temperatures routinely drop well below freezing on the mountain slopes.
Lin said their top rescue team hiked for 28 hours to reach the body, only sleeping for three hours because they knew temperatures were rapidly plunging.