Nicki Minaj has canceled her appearance at Jeddah World Fest in Saudi Arabia because she says she wants to show her support for LGBTQ rights, freedom of expression and women’s 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 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 alcohol and drug-free festival, which takes place on July 18 at the King Abdullah Sports Stadium in the Red Sea city, also includes Liam Payne and Steve Aoki in the lineup.
The Human Rights Foundation urged Minaj, who recently participated in World Pride in New York City, and Payne to drop out of the festival.
“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 statement reads.
President of the Human Rights Foundation Thor Halvorssen praised Minaj for choosing not to perform.
“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 in a statement. “The July 18 festival in Saudi Arabia still shows Liam Payne as a performer. We hope that he follows Nicki Minaj’s lead. 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.”
Payne is still scheduled to perform.