Nicki Minaj has pulled out of a music festival in Saudi Arabia to show her support for women’s rights.
Minaj was initially set to headline the Jeddah World Fest. However, her inclusion created a huge outcry, with several fans and other social activists urging the “Megatron” rapper to pull out of the concert, citing the Middle Eastern country’s history of human rights violations.
Minaj says she pulled out of the festival to show her support for “the rights of women, the LGBTQ community and freedom of expression.”
Jeddah World Fest 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.
She added, “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.”
Earlier, advocacy group the Human Rights Foundation had sent Minaj a open letter asking her to cancel her performance due to the country’s history of crackdowns on freedom of speech and the press as well as women’s rights and LGBTQ rights.
“If you move forward with this performance … you will be in league with the people who respond to freedom of expression and thought with murder,” HRF CEO and president Thor Halvorssen wrote in the letter.
“Your participation in a performance sponsored by a murderous, repressive regime involved in gross human rights violations — especially of women and sexual minorities — would be highly unfortunate. Furthermore, it would be disastrous for a public figure of your standing who has articulated a commitment to education, women’s rights, and social justice,” he added.