Muslim singer forced to quit French show ‘The Voice’ amid backlash

Mennel Ibtissem
Updated 10 February 2018
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Muslim singer forced to quit French show ‘The Voice’ amid backlash

PARIS: A French Muslim singer who became an overnight star after dazzling judges on a TV talent show quit the contest Friday after coming under fire for past Facebook comments about terror attacks.
Mennel Ibtissem, a 22-year-old student who wears a head wrap, was one of the top contestants on “The Voice,” where her English and Arabic version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” caused a sensation.
But within days of Saturday’s performance she was under pressure to bow out over old Facebook messages that appeared to question the terrorist nature of attacks that claimed scores of lives in France in 2016.
The posts have been deleted but screen grabs of the remarks have been circulated on far-right websites.
The singer had apologized over the remarks but the apology failed to quell the controversy.
With private broadcaster TF1 under pressure to pull her out of the competition, including from relatives of the victims of the Nice attack, she quit on Friday.
“I never meant to hurt anyone and the mere thought that my remarks hurt others hurts me, so I have taken the decision to quit this adventure,” she said in a Facebook video that has been viewed more than over 860,000 times.
The production company behind The Voice, ITV Studios France, said that despite her earlier apology the atmosphere on the show had become “too heavy” and hoped her decision to withdraw would “soothe tensions.”
But some of her fans expressed disappointment, amid allegations of anti-Muslim bias.
On Ibtissem’s Facebook page, Jihene Ferchiou wrote: “We must not delude ourselves. Your turban, your religion, your origins were the obstacle.
“Clearly we have reached an unprecedented level of racism in France. It’s a disgrace.”


Italy beats China 2-0 to reach World Cup quarterfinals

Updated 11 min 48 sec ago
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Italy beats China 2-0 to reach World Cup quarterfinals

  • Italy will play either Japan or the Netherlands on Saturday in Valenciennes
  • China had only allowed one goal in its three group stage games but the talented Italian attack broke down the vaunted defense

MONTPELLIER, France: Valentina Giacinti and Aurora Galli scored and Italy earned its first appearance in the quarterfinals of the Women’s World Cup since 1991 after beating China 2-0 on Tuesday night.
Giacinti created and finished off her 15th-minute opener before Galli’s long strike put the result beyond doubt four minutes after halftime at the stiflingly hot Stade de la Mosson.
Playing in its first World Cup in 20 years, Italy has proven to be one of the revelations of the tournament by making the final eight after winning its group ahead of Brazil and Australia.
Italy will play either Japan or the Netherlands on Saturday in Valenciennes.
China had only allowed one goal in its three group stage games but the talented Italian attack broke down the vaunted defense.
Galli scored after coming on to replace striker Cristina Girelli, who walked off the field late in the first half with an apparent leg problem.
But it was Giacinti who was a force in the early stage of the match.
While Girelli and Barbara Bonansea had combined for five goals in the group phase, Giacinti had yet to score in the tournament.
She threatened on two other occasions Tuesday before finally finding the back of the net. She thought she had struck an early goal but it was ruled offside. Another shot swerved wide of the post after Bonansea intercepted a poor pass by a Chinese defender.
Giacinti then produced the chance that led to her opening goal. After pressuring to win a ball near the touchline, she raced down the flank and found Bonansea, who waited to find left back Elsa Bartoli joining the move. Bartoli’s shot was blocked by China goalkeeper Peng Shimeng, only for Giacinti to pounce on the loose ball and drive it home.
China midfielder Wang Yan did manage to make Italy goalkeeper Laura Giuliani palm her effort over the bar in the 28th minute.
But Peng then had to dive to parry a powerful strike from Valentina Bergamaschi as Italy looked close to a quick second goal against a China team that couldn’t handle its press and its trio of attackers.
Once China settled down and eliminated sloppy passes, the action tilted momentarily to the other half. Forward Li Ying gave Bartoli fits with her dribbling and she made the Italian defenders work with her dangerous crosses.
Italy suffered a bigger blow when it lost Girelli in the 39th.
She was replaced by Galli, who surprised Peng with a right-footed strike that went skimming over the turf and beyond the goalkeeper’s reach.
It was Galli’s third goal of the tournament. She got two in a 5-0 rout of Jamaica, also as a substitute.
China pushed for a goal to spark a comeback, but center backs Sara Gama and Elena Linari kept Giuliani from having to make any significant saves.
Italy has scored nine goals in its three wins in the tournament.
The Italians also maintained their stingy defense with a second clean sheet. Both goals they have conceded so far came on penalties.
China went home with just one goal scored.