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Backlash sees Nicki Minaj pull out of Saudi Arabia festival

Backlash sees Nicki Minaj pull out of Saudi Arabia festival
July 11, 2019

Rapper Nicki Minaj has cancelled a scheduled performance in Saudi Arabia next week, citing her support for the rights of women and the LGBT community.

Her headline billing at the Jeddah World Fest triggered an outcry from critics of the country's human rights record.

Others questioned how her revealing outfits and explicit lyrics would go over in the ultra-conservative Kingdom.

Saudi Arabia has been trying to ease restrictions on entertainment and to encourage growth in its arts sector.

Scrutiny of the Kingdom's human rights record intensified after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last October.

In March, the Kingdom drew further criticism when it put 10 women's rights activists on trial.

In a statement, Minja advised "after careful reflection I have decided to no longer move forward with my scheduled concert at Jeddah World Fest," the singer 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."

On Friday, the US-based Human Rights Foundation wrote an open letter to Minaj urging her to withdraw from the 18th July festival.

It called on her to "refuse the regime's money" and use her influence to demand the release of the detained women activists.

Minaj was not the first performer to cause controversy by accepting an invitation to perform in Saudi Arabia.

Earlier this year, Mariah Carey defied calls from human rights activists to cancel her performance in the kingdom, while last December rapper Nelly came under fire for performing a "men only" concert.

Image of Nicki Minaj courtesy of Qudos Bank Arena/Facebook.

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30th October 2017 - Saudi Arabia to allow women to attend stadium-based sport

11th October 2017 - Saudi Arabia reveals US$2.7 billion plan to expand entertainment sector

28th September 2017 - First ever admission of women to Saudi Arabian sport stadium

14th August 2017 - Human rights group welcomes Saudi Arabian reform on school sport for girls

25th October 2016 - Hajj pilgrimage to boost Saudi Arabian tourism to over 20 million visitors by 2020

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