Justin Bieber has been urged to cancel an upcoming concert in Saudi Arabia by the former fiancee of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Hatice Cengiz, who was engaged to the late Saudi journalist prior to his killing in the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate in 2018, called on the singer in an open letter not to go ahead with a scheduled 5 December performance in Saudi Arabia’s second-largest city Jeddah.
“I know that you are dedicated to your fans and are travelling to Saudi Arabia on their behalf. However, there are hundreds of Saudis, of all ages, backgrounds and religious beliefs, languishing in prison, punished for merely expressing their opposition to the merciless Saudi dictatorship of MBS,” she wrote in the Washington Post on Sunday, referring to the kingdom’s de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.
She added that the cancellation would “send a powerful message to the world that your name and talent will not be used to restore the reputation of a regime that kills its critics.”
“Do not sing for the murderers of my beloved Jamal,” Cengiz wrote.
“Please speak out and condemn his killer, Mohammed bin Salman. Your voice will be heard by millions.”
Justin Bieber is set to perform as part of the after-race concerts for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix alongside a star-studded lineup including Jason Derulo, ASAP Rocky, and David Guetta.
His latest album, Justice, which was released earlier this year, was intended in part as a symbol of support for Black Lives Matter and other social justice movements, according to the singer.
On Wednesday, Human Rights Watch warned that the kingdom had “a history of using celebrities and major international events to deflect scrutiny from its pervasive abuses.”
The advocacy group said the performers should “speak out publicly on rights issues or, when reputation-laundering is the primary purpose, not participate.”
Khashoggi, a Saudi-born US resident who wrote for Middle East Eye and the Washington Post and was critical of human rights abuses in the kingdom, was killed and dismembered by a team of operatives linked to the crown prince, something confirmed by a US intelligence report in February.
MBS has denied any involvement and the US has avoided imposing any direct punishment on him.