Activists Urge Nicki Minaj to Cancel Concert Appearance
Nicki Minaj is scheduled to perform in Saudi Arabia, a nation that beheaded five men in April for admitting to sexual relations with other men.
The Human Rights Foundation is advising Nicki Minaj to cancel her performance at a Saudi Arabia music festival because it is being funded by controversial Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), who is part of the nation’s oppressive regime that includes sexism and homophobia.
Founded in 2005, the nonprofit organization describes itself as promoting and protecting human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies. They sent a five-page letter to the award-winning rapper, imploring her to pull out of the upcoming Jeddah World Fest on July 18.
“The Saudi regime [is] one of the world’s worst human rights violators,” the letter read. “And in particular the right to freedom of opinion and expression.”
The letter described that the nation is ruled by an “absolute monarchy” that censors the media, and undermines any attempts to fix human rights violations, such as issues affecting women. For example, public demonstrations and protests are illegal even though there are no express laws regulating or prohibiting them.
Also discussed was the country’s abuse of its LGBTQ citizens, including the beheading of five men in April for admitting to sexual relations with other men. The Human Rights Foundation cited Minaj’s own participation in World Pride in her hometown of New York City last month, and how she would contradict that with an appearance at the Jeddah World Fest.
Some of Saudi Arabia’s strict rules have actually loosened under the current Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, such as women being allowed to drive and attend sporting events in stadiums. In 2018, the capitol city of Riyadh opened its first movie theaters after a 35-year ban.
The Human Rights Foundation previously contacted Minaj to no avail in 2015, requesting her to pull out of an appearance in Angola, citing humans rights violations in the oil-rich African nation.
Although the foundation has notified Minaj weeks ahead of the concert in Saudi Arabia this year, the singer has not yet made a public comment.
The Jeddah World Fest is the largest musical festival of its kind in the region, held at the King Abdullah Sports Stadium event in the Red Sea city. Attendees must be 16 and older to attend, and alcohol or drug use is prohibited. DJ Steve Aoki and former One Direction star Liam Payne are also scheduled to appear, but were not contacted by the human rights group.
There have been other artists who’ve performed recently in Saudi Arabia, including Mariah Carey, Enrique Iglesias, the Black Eyed Peas, and David Guetta. Some have been met with objection not to for similar reasons as Minaj.