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

Updated 07 February 2018

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.

Priyanka Chopra, soon to be Jonas? Either way, she’s got the rock

Updated 16 August 2018

Priyanka Chopra, soon to be Jonas? Either way, she’s got the rock

  • Nick Jonas and Chopra were first seen together at the Met Gala in May 2017
  • Jonas, who was one third of the Jonas Brothers before he went solo, has already traveled to Mumbai to meet Chopra’s family

DUBAI: Indian actress Priyanka Chopra, who reportedly got engaged to American singer Nick Jonas on her birthday last month, is sporting what appears to be a sizeable rock on her ring finger to prove it.

The photo of the sparkler was impossible not to spot in group photos posted on Instagram on Wednesday by Sophie Choudry and in close-ups with Raveena Tandon, in which the “Quantico” star has wrapped her left hand with said rock around Tandon’s shoulder rather purposefully. 

Tandon, Chopra’s friend and fellow actress, wrote: “Peecee and I getting our pouts in order!” Could they be practicing for the wedding photos?

Dressed in a saffron yellow pantsuit, Chopra attended a party at designer Manish Malhotra’s residence Tuesday night with other Bollywood stars. An engagement party in Mumbai is rumored to be in the works for this weekend, where it’s expected the couple will make an announcement. 

Jonas, who was one third of the Jonas Brothers before he went solo, has already traveled to Mumbai to meet Chopra’s family. It will be a busy wedding season, as his older brother Joe is also engaged, to Sophie Turner, who plays Sensa Stark on “Game of Thrones.”

Jonas and Chopra were first seen together at the Met Gala in May 2017. Earlier this summer, she traveled to New Jersey to attend his cousin’s wedding in New Jersey. He reportedly shut down Tiffany & Co. in London to buy the ring in July.

It seems they’re well-suited: Both Jonas and Chopra do charity work. He and his brothers started Change for the Children Foundation to raise awareness about diabetes, a condition which he has, while she is a global goodwill ambassador for UNICEF and has the Priyanka Chopra Foundation for Health and Education. 

If all of this sounds like another couple whose nuptials were recently in the headlines, that’s no surprise. Chopra is the friend of Meghan Markle, and watched her and Prince Harry tie the knot in Windsor Castle’s St. George’s Chapel in May. 

Chopra may have even been inspired by the royal wedding: “Every once in a while there is a moment when time stands still,” she wrote on her Instagram account. “You, my friend, were the epitome of grace, love and beauty… Thank you for being the perfect picture of all things good. Seeing your union and love blessed in front of my eyes made me so happy.”