Nicki Minaj has canceled her headlining set at a music festival in Saudi Arabia following concern from human rights groups.
On Tuesday (July 9), the “Megatron” rapper announced that she has pulled out of the Jeddah World Fest, which is set to take place July 18 at King Abdullah Sports Stadium.
“After careful reflection I have decided to no longer move forward with my scheduled concert at Jeddah World Fest,” Minaj told Billboard 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.”
Her decision follows complaints from activists including Human Rights Foundation CEO Thor Halvorssen, who urged Minaj to cancel. In his five-page letter, he pointed out Saudi Arabia’s human rights crisis, including its treatment of women 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,” wrote Halvorssen.
“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.”
Minaj was reportedly receiving a seven-figure check to headline the Jeddah World Fest, which is billed as “one of the biggest music events ever staged in the Middle East.” Liam Payne and Steve Aoki are currently still on the bill.