Nicki Minaj has canceled her headlining set at a music festival in Saudi Arabia in a show of support for “the rights of women, the LGBTQ community and freedom of expression.”
On Tuesday (July 9), the rapper announced that she wouldn’t be moving forward with her commitment to Jeddah World Fest, which is set to take place July 18 at King Abdullah Sports Stadium. Liam Payne and Steve Aoki are currently slated to headline the event.
“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 Billboard. “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.”
News of Minaj’s involvement hit on July 3 and was met with immediate concern and a prompt response from Human Rights Foundation CEO Thor Halvorssen. He wrote her a lengthy letter regarding the kingdom’s human rights violations, its treatment of women — including a recently-lifted ban that had previously prevented women from driving or attending events such as this festival — and abuse of the LGBTQ community.
“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.”