Nicki Minaj was slated to headline Saudi Arabia’s largest music festival later this month, but backed out after educating herself on the country’s human rights issues. Now, Janet Jackson, 50 Cent, Chris Brown, Future, and Tyga have been added to the lineup.
The Jeddah World Fest will take place tonight at the King Abdullah Sports Stadium. The newly-announced artists will join former One Direction member Liam Payne and DJ Steve Aoki, who have remained on the bill despite backlash from activists.
Earlier this month, the Human Rights Foundation asked the U.S. artists, including Minaj, to not perform at the festival because of the country’s treatment toward women and LGBTQ people. While the conservative country has loosened its grip on rules like allowing women to drive and attend events at sports stadiums, women still need to ask permission from a male member of their family to attend the concert. Additionally, just this year, five gay men have been executed after revealing their sexuality.
Thor Halvorssen, president of the Human Rights Foundation who had penned a letter to Minaj urging her to call-off her performance, told The Associated Press that it is “profoundly distressing” that these new artists added to the lineup would choose “money over morals.”
These individuals constantly make public statements of support for LGBT rights and women’s rights, except, apparently, when a seven-figure check is attached,” he said. “The hypocrisy is breathtaking. Principal apparently matters to them far more than principles.”
Minaj pulled-out of the event last week, writing to her fans that “after better educating myself on the issues, I believe it is important for me to make clear my support for the rights of women, the LGBTQ community and freedom of expression.”
Over the past year, performers like Mariah Carey, Enrique Iglesias, The Black Peas, Sean Paul, David Guetta, and Tiesto have taken the stage in Saudi Arabia, despite concerns from activists. Now, the K-pop group BTS are making headlines after they added a stop to their world tour in the country, sparking a conversation from fans.