Viral ‘Voice’ and ‘AGT’ French Muslim Star Takes Off Her Hijab — Here’s Why

Samantha Agate
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Singer Mennel Ibtissem auditioned for the French version of The Voice in 2018 with a rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” that went viral. She sang in both English and French. She then went on to audition for America’s Got Talent in 2019 with another viral yet controversial audition. Her claim to fame wasn’t just her amazing voice but also her proud identity as a hijab-wearing French Muslim female singer. Recently, she posted a photo on Instagram that looks a little bit different from her normal appearance which has her fans wondering what happened?

Mennel’s viral audition on ‘The Voice’ France with Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen

Why Did Mennel Get Rid Of Her Head Covering? Mennel Posts On Instagram

For those familiar with Ibtissem’s auditions or her music, you know that her staple identity is her wearing a hijab, or a religious head covering worn by some Muslim women. As of late Mennel is no longer wearing her hijab, and is letting her long brown locks flow. Many fans in the comments, both in French and in Arabic are asking – why? Mennel didn’t yet directly respond to the question but she wrote a lengthy caption thanking her fans for supporting her values and music on her most recent picture. The closest that she came to an explanation for her recent change in appearance is this part:

“I will never lower myself to the level that is not mine. And I keep that smile, the one who tells you “I am proud to be who I am and if that is not enough, then I have nothing else to offer” I am happy to be who I am and I share with my community, my “mennies ♥ ️” all the love that I have in me. I am 100% authentic and I intend to remain so. Thank you to those who appreciate my music and my person for his true values. To you, know that my story is Traced in the light of my inspiration.

And my inspiration is you. It is the love, sincerity, and kindness of those who feel connected to me, to this musical universe which encompasses our sorrows and our joys, our hopes, and our glories.
One day I was told: walk straight and don’t turn around. So I take one step, then two, and I courageously move forward with an open heart and a free spirit.

She emphasized how social media is only a small part of life and that she appreciates the loving comments she gets but knows that the negative comments are not to be taken too seriously.


She also posted a cover of “Slow Dancing In A Burning Room” by John Mayer where she is seen without a head covering on and stated in the caption that she is currently working on her second album. The video has garnered over 77,000 views.

A Look Back At Mennel’s ‘AGT’ Audition and Editing Controversy

Ibtissem’s AGT audition was featured in a short montage where it seemed like she struggled through her song. Simon Cowell offered her water and suggested she sing another song. The editing made it seem like she did not make it through to the next round. She took to social media to set the record straight and reveal that she did, in fact, make it to the next round. She quit the show because of this editing decision. In her audition, she is wearing a hijab.

It is clear that this faulty editing did not get her down. She has a loyal fanbase that has stuck by her and supported her music since her appearance on the show. She has 386,000 subscribers on Youtube and posts well-received covers. In the comments, fans mention that she is beautiful with or without her hijab. They recognize that it is her decision whether or not she wants to wear it and will support her regardless.

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