JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (CelebrityAccess) — A week after she was announced as a headliner at the Jeddah World music festival in Saudi Arabia, Nicki Minaj has dropped out of the event, citing the country’s poor record on human rights.
“After careful reflection I have decided to no longer move forward with my scheduled concert at Jeddah World Fest,” Minaj said in a statement provided 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.”
Minaj was due to perform at the festival on July 18th, but after she was announced as a headliner, she faced immediate criticism for participating in the event with groups such as the Human Rights Foundation calling on her to drop out.
“The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) considers the Saudi regime to be one of the world’s worst human rights violators and has contacted Minaj, urging her to cancel her performance, refuse the regime’s money, and instead use her global influence to issue a statement demanding the release of the Saudi women activists who are currently in prison. Minaj, who took part in World Pride festivities in her hometown of New York City last month to celebrate LGBTQ rights, will be performing in a country where homosexuality is punishable by imprisonment or death. In April of this year, at least five men were executed by the Saudi regime for admitting to sexual relations with other men after enduring months of torture,” the HRF said in a statement released last week.
The choice of Minaj to perform at the event was an unusual one for Saudi Arabia, a country known for the close relationship of its monarchical government with fundamentalist Islam. Saudi women were only recently permitted to drive and still face segregation in public spaces, including the requirement that they conceal themselves in niqab — full-body robes and veils.