Mennel Ibtessim said her intention was to “gather people, not divide them.”
A French-Muslim singer whose performance of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah on The Voice France made headlines around the world has pulled out of the competition following backlash over old social media posts.
Mennel Ibtessim, 22, made her debut on the television show early in February. Tweets she made following Israel’s 2014 attacks on Gaza were quickly reported in French media, prompting calls for her to quit the show.
A week after her performance aired, Ibtessim has done just that.
The posts in question have since been deleted, but The National reports that the singer tweeted using the hashtag #StopArmingIsrael and said the country was “terrorising innocent civilians”.
Ibtessim posted two videos explaining her decision to quit the show, one in English and one in French.
“I have faith in a future full of love, peace and tolerance,” she said in the video. “I have faith in my country, France.”
“But these last days have been very difficult for me. A lot of tension has hidden my desire to spread love and peace.”
She added that this would not mean the end of her singing career.
Ibtessim sang the first verse of Cohen’s iconic song in English before switching to Arabic for the remainder. In the refrain, she sang ‘Ya Ilahi,’ meaning ‘My God.’
You can watch her performance here:
“I’ve never meant to hurt anyone and the idea that I would do it on purpose pains me a lot,” Ibtessim said in her Facebook statement.
“[I’ll] keep spreading my message of peace and tolerance, far from all types of fanaticism.”
Images: Mennel Ibtessim/Facebook