Rapper Nicki Minaj was slated to perform in Saudi Arabia later this month for a large music festival, but after educating herself on the issues plaguing the country and hearing from human rights activists, Minaj has called-off her appearance.
“After careful reflection I have decided to no longer move forward with my scheduled concert at Jeddah World Fest,” Minaj said in a statement released to the Associated Press. “While I want nothing more than to bring my show to fans in Saudi Arabia, 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.”
The Jeddah World Fest is slated to take place on July 18 in Red Sea city ,will also include performances from former One Direction member Liam Payne and DJ Steve Aoki. The Human Rights Foundation’s president, Thor Halvorssen, who originally penned a letter to Minaj urging her to cancel her performance, hopes that the other U.S. artists on the bill will follow suit.
“This is what leadership looks like. We are grateful to Nicki Minaj for her inspiring and thoughtful decision to reject the Saudi regime’s transparent attempt at using her for a public relations stunt,” Halvorssen said. “Minaj’s moral stance differs from celebrity performers like J-Lo and Mariah Carey who in the past have chosen to line their pockets with millions of dollars and stand with dictatorial governments as opposed to with oppressed communities and imprisoned human rights activists.”
The Saudi festival is slated to be the largest attended festival in the country, but activists are expressing their frustration toward the kingdom. While the country has lessened its grip on harsh rules regarding women – like allowing them to drive – activists still believe they have a long way to go, arguing that women still need to ask permission from a male member of their family to go to the show. Additionally, gay members of the community are at risk, as homosexuals have been executed for being who they are.