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Her Minajesty
Nicki Minaj wears all clothes and accessories by ChanelPhotography Jeff Bark, Styling Robbie Spencer

Nicki Minaj cancels concert at Saudi Arabian music festival

The decision was praised by the Human Rights Foundation

Nicki Minaj has cancelled an upcoming headline slot at Jeddah World Fest, a music festival taking place in Saudi Arabia on July 18, The Guardian reports.

“After careful reflection I have decided to no longer move forward with my scheduled concert at Jeddah World Fest,” the rapper told the Associated Press 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.”

In Saudi Arabia, gender segregation is still enforced in many areas of public life, while same-sex relationships are criminalised.

The Human Rights Foundation last week had called for Minaj and other performers to cancel the show. The organisation later praised her for cancelling. “THANK YOU ... for supporting LGBTQ & women’s rights,” they said on Twitter. “Millions of people around the world are inspired by your devotion to human rights and human dignity.” Other artists scheduled to perform at Jeddah World Fest include Liam Payne and Steve Aoki. 

In a statement, Human Rights Foundation president Thor Halvorssen added: “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.”

While Saudi morality police used to crack down on establishments playing loud music, the kingdom has recently seen high profile performances from the likes of Sean Paul, the Black Eyed Peas, and Tiesto as part of its ‘modernisation’ programme under Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salmam. That programme also included the opening of its first cinema, and lifting the ban on women drivers. Of course, that hasn’t stopped the constant human rights violations, nor the brutal murder of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi last year.