Nicki Minaj has canceled her upcoming performance at the Jeddah World Fest in Saudia Arabia in an effort to show support for women’s and LGBTQ rights.
“After careful reflection I have decided to no longer move forward with my scheduled concert at Jeddah World Fest. 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 said in a statement Tuesday.
Reps for the Jeddah World Fest did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment. Minaj’s image has been removed from the festival’s website.
Taking place July 18 at King Abdullah Sports City Stadium near the city of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Minaj was set to headline the festival along with Liam Payne, Steve Aoki and R3 Wire & Varski. It’s open to attendees 16 and older, and both drugs and alcohol are prohibited.
On Friday, the Human Rights Foundation requested that the rapper cancel her performance at the festival, and sent her an open letter that aimed to inform her of what they say is a “human rights crisis” in the country.
“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,” the HRF’s CEO and president Thor Halvorssen said in a letter sent to Minaj and to Robert Stevenson and Ben Adelson at Republic Records.
The letter criticizes Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who financed the event and authorized Minaj’s performance, as the head of a regime that “violates the rights of 10s of millions of Saudis.” The letter points out that any woman attending the performance will need to obtain permission from a man and must be accompanied to attend. View the full letter here.
In response to Minaj’s decision to withdraw, Halvorssen gave the following statement to TheWrap:
“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 and for standing up for LGBTQI and women’s rights. The July 18 festival in Saudi Arabia still shows Liam Payne as a performer. We urge him to follow 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.”
The Associated Press was first to break the news.