Nicki Minaj backed off from the music concert in Saudi Arabia in support of LGBTQ and women’s rights.
“After careful reflection, I have decided to no longer move forward with my scheduled concert at Jeddah World Fest,” Minaj 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.”
“It would break me if even one of my fans were arrested, or BEATEN for expressing themselves,” Minaj tweeted. “NO disrespect to the Saudi govt,” she added.
Minaj’s appearance was scheduled in the western city of Jeddah as part of a cultural festival had triggered a social media backlash over human rights in the country.
Human Rights Foundation President Thor Halvorssen said in a statement that the organization is grateful to the rapper for canceling her performance, calling the decision “inspiring and thoughtful.”
“This is what leadership looks like,” Halvorssen said. “We are grateful to Nicki Minaj for her inspiring and thoughtful decision to reject the Saudi regime’s transparent attempt at using her for a public relations stunt.”
Halvorssen also said that former One Direction star Liam Payne is still in a performer list at the music festival and the organization hopes “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,” he said.
Minaj is not the only star who faces 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.