The “Megraton” rapper in a statement released yesterday has however confirmed that she canceled the scheduled performance in Saudi Arabia next week, citing her support for the rights of women and the LGBT community.
The announcement of Minaj’s scheduled performance drew criticism from several quarters with many wondering how the multiple award-winning star who is known for her provocative outfits and lyrics would perform in the Islamic country.
Amind the public outcry, the US Human Rights Foundation also called for Minaj and other musicians, One Direction’s Liam Payne, Steve Aoki and others scheduled to play at the Jeddah World Fest on July 18 to pull out of the festival, over the country’s record of human rights violations.
Scrutiny of the country’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 to the Associated Press, Minaj said:
“After careful reflection I have decided to no longer move forward with my scheduled concert at Jeddah World Fest. 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.”
Minaj is not the first performer to cause controversy by accepting an invitation to perform in Saudi Arabia. It would be recalled that earlier this year, Grammy award-winning songstress, Mariah Careydefied 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.
It is noteworthy that in recent times, Saudi Arabia has been trying to ease restrictions on entertainment and to encourage growth in its arts sector.
It would be recalled that Minaj recently shared a lengthy Instagram post in which she boasted about her accomplishments as well as receiving love from fellow female artistes. Nicki reminded the world it was only 12 years ago when she dropped her first full-length project, and that she has continued to secure No. 1s without the help of ghostwriters or “a crusade by radio stations, influencers and blogs.”