U.S. rap artist, Nicki Minaj, who was billed to perform at the Saudi Arabia Jedda season music festival scheduled for July 18 has cancelled her performance, CNN is reporting.
The award-winning rapper revealed this in a statement published by CNN on Wednesday.
It read, “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.”
Nicki’s proposed appearance at the concert triggered an outcry from critics of the country’s human rights record after it was publicised a few weeks backs.
Critics wondered how the singer who is known for her lewd lyrics and raunchy music videos would be allowed to perform in the conservative Islamic nation.
The criticisms heightened last week when some persons described 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.
This outcries prompted the US-based Human Rights Foundation to write an open letter to Nicki, urging her to withdraw from the July 18 festival.
It called on her to “refuse the regime’s money” and use her influence to demand the release of the detained women activists.
The rapper was billed to perform alongside a British musician, Liam Payne, and American DJ, Steve Aoki at the King Abdullah Sports Stadium in the Red Sea city
The Human Rights Foundation on Wednesday commended Nicki’s decision on its Twitter handle describing it as “laudable”.
While addressing her decision on Instagram, the rapper posted a picture on social media.
“Saudi Arabia I see some of your comments & I want to respond directly to my fans,” the photo read, “Voice your opinions here”, she wrote on her Instagram handle.
Nicki is not the first performer to cause 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. In December, rapper Nelly came under fire for performing a “men only” concert.