Singer Mennel Ibtissem sends fans cryptic message over her future

Muslim star receives abuse online after deciding to remove her hijab

Mennel Ibtissem has said she has fallen in love with Egypt, where "things may be better for me". 
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French Muslim singer Mennel Ibtissem sent fans a cryptic message about her plans for the future.

Ibtissem, who is of Syrian heritage, shot to fame in 2018 after her performance of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah on the French version of The Voice.

But the singer has been bombarded with abuse after deciding to remove her hijab and she  came close to quitting the music industry earlier this year.

In an Instagram post this week she suggested all was still not well.

She wrote that she sang at the Cairo Jazz Festival after an invitation from pianist and composer Amro Salah.

“I think now I fell in love with Egypt, and honestly it feels like things would be better for me here ... you know what I mean,” she wrote.

She also wrote about her desire to focus on her music and told fans, known as "mennies", she was not the person "the media portray".

Previously, she faced heavy criticism after going public with the decision to remove her hijab.

Her social media feed is littered with comments describing the decision as a shame.

Speaking to the BBC, Ibtissem said her decision to remove the hijab was deeply personal.

She said: “I just said to myself, OK, enough of this image of: ‘Oh, you have to be the flag of Islam.’

“This decision was a huge problem for some people because they identified me with the hijab, so if Mennel has the hijab it means she’s Muslim and if she’s Muslim then she has to behave this way and not that way.”

Acknowledging that it was difficult to be a Muslim in France, the former The Voice contestant said some of her fans felt abandoned after she took off her hijab.

Ibtissem quit The Voice when comments she made about the Nice terrorist attack on social media caused an uproar.

Weeks later, after men burst into a French church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray and killed an elderly priest, she said: "The real terrorist is our government."

Ibtissem said the comments were taken out of context.