Rapper Nicki Minaj has announced that she is pulling out of the planned concert in Saudi Arabia next week, citing her support for the rights of women and the LGBT community.
Minaj was Schedule to headline at the Jeddah World music festival on 18 July which 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 encourage growth in its art sector and also reduce entertainment restriction.
In March, the kingdom drew further criticism when it put 10 women’s rights activists on trial.
“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, the “Star ships” singer said in a statement.
Nicki said in a statement “After careful reflection I have decided to no longer move forward with my scheduled concert at Jeddah World Fest,”
Last week, the New York-based Human Rights Foundation (HRF) wrote an open letter to Minaj urging her to withdraw from performing, saying her appearance would be at odds with the rapper’s participation in festivities in New York marking Gay Pride month in June. Homosexuality is banned in Saudi Arabia.
It called on her to “refuse the regime’s money” and use her influence to demand the release of the detained women activists.
On social media Last week many describes the singer’s decision to perform in Jeddah as hypocritical, contrasting her appearances at gay pride events with Saudi Arabia’s stance on gay rights. Homosexuality is banned in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi officials last week said the Jeddah World Fest would be the region’s biggest ever live musical event.
Other announced performers include former One Direction British singer Liam Payne and American DJ Steve Aoki.
Halvorssen said on Tuesday he hoped Payne would follow Minaj and withdraw.
About a dozen of Saudi women activists have been arressted for the past year on charges related to human rights work and relation with foreign journalists and diplomats in a case that has drawn global attention after last year’s murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.