New York rapper Nicki Minaj is doing the right thing. The hip-hop superstar has decided to fall back on performing at this month’s Jeddah World Fest in Saudi Arabia over the country’s aggressive stance toward women and the LGBTQ community.
On Tuesday, Minaj came forward with an open statement revealing her decision.
“After careful reflection I have decided to no longer move forward with my scheduled concert at Jeddah World Fest,” Minaj said in a statement. “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.” (Statement)
The decision comes days after the Human Rights Foundation urged Minaj to not perform in the controversial country.
The “Megatron” rapper was originally supposed to headline the festival on July 18. Though some rules have been loosened, which now allow women to drive and attend events in sports stadiums, gender segregation between single men and women is still practiced and enforced in many places in Saudi Arabia. (Variety)
Last week, Human Rights Foundation CEO Thor Halvorssen called out Nicki for her initial plan to perform overseas.
“Since coming to power in 2017, [Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman] has spearheaded a crackdown on human rights, especially those of the women who live in his Kingdom,” he wrote, providing many examples of abuse of power that directly result in abuse inflected on the Saudi people, especially women, members of the LBGTQ community and the press. “If you move forward with this performance for a festival sponsored by the Crown Prince, you will be in league with the people who respond to freedom of expression and thought with murder.” (Billboard)
Saudia Arabia has been known for its tough living conditions and putting a chokehold on human rights.
The Saudi government has made efforts to relax some of its restrictions. Last year, a 35-year ban on movie theaters was lifted, and women were finally given the right to drive. This year, Mariah Carey held her own concert in Saudi Arabia, despite backlash from women’s rights activists. It’s all part of an economic overhaul under Vision 2030, an effort to reduce the kingdom’s reliance on oil. The kingdom is attempting to create economic activity at home and encourage citizens to spend their money within its borders. But there are few entertainment attractions due to its ultraconservatism — hence, the Jeddah World Fest. (CNN)