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.

First sounds of wind on Mars captured by InSight spacecraft

Updated 09 December 2018

First sounds of wind on Mars captured by InSight spacecraft

  • 20 second audio clip shows sound of wind on Mars
  • Clip also supports evidence of wind speed and direction on Mars

DUBAI: An audio clip of the first sounds captured on Mars by its latest inhabitant, the InSight probe, was released last week, British broadcaster BBC reported.

The clip, 20 seconds long, has captured the sound of the wind on the desert planet.

InSight carries a British-made seismometer package, which was able to detect the vibrations from Martian air rushing over the solar panels.

Professor Tom Pike, leading the seismometer experiment from Imperial College London, likened the placement of the solar panels to the robot “cupping its ears”. “[They are] the perfect acoustic receivers.” he said.

The wind on Mars moves from the northeast to the southeast at about five to seven meters per second, according to the latest estimates. This falls in line with evidence shown by satellite pictures that display the tracks left by dust devils travelling in the same direction.

 “This is brilliant news because it means we know the sensors have survived the rigors of landing on Mars and are meeting the requirements to achieve their science goals,” Sue Horne, head of space exploration at the UK Space Agency, told the BBC.

“It is just amazing to hear the first ever sounds from Mars,” Horne added.

InSight landed on Mars on November 26th, following a six-month journey from Earth. Its overall aim is to study the world's interior from the mission site, a flat plain just north of Mars's equator.