Nicki Minaj has resigned from performing at the Jeddah World Fest in Saudi Arabia in support of human rights, The Associated Press reports. The country has a documented history with the oppression of women and the LGBTQ community. Things began to take a turn for the better in 2018 when women were finally allowed to drive.
“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.”
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I’m tired of my fans sending me DM’s saying they want to commit suicide. You guys will never know the things my fans express to me privately. It would break me if even one of my fans were arrested, or BEATEN for expressing themselves. God is LOVE. NO disrespect to the Saudi govt
— MEGATRON (@NICKIMINAJ) July 9, 2019
The concert is set to take place on July 18 at The King Abdullah Sports Stadium in the Red City. The AP reports that the festival will follow the Kingdom’s laws of no alcohol or drugs, and would also admit anyone 16 and older. Other headliners for the show include Steve Aoki and One Direction’s Liam Payne.
Reportedly, the Human Rights Foundation issued a statement requesting that Minaj and the rest of the performers pull out from the show. On Tuesday (July 9), the HRF praised the “Good Form” rapper for her decision to cancel. The organization also criticized other artists in the past who have performed in the Saudi Kingdom.
“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,” Thor Halvorssen, president of the Human Rights Foundation stated. “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.”
Since the announcement, Minaj received a slew of support from the masses. Author and feminist Mona Eltahawy, who has amplified issues women and the LGBTQ people face in the Middle East, showed support to the rapper on Twitter:
Regardless of whether you are a Nicki Minaj fan/not, remember that it took a while to get artists to boycott apartheid South Africa. Read that history. Her cancellation of gender apartheid Saudi Arabia over women’s & LGBTQ rights is important; a turning point we should celebrate.
— Mona Eltahawy (@monaeltahawy) July 9, 2019