Human Rights Group Wants Nicki Minaj to Sit Out Saudi Arabia Show

Promoters behind the Jeddah World Festival in Saudi Arabia excited fans all over the world when they announced Nicki Minaj would be headlining the music event on July 18. But the decision also sparked criticism and confusion, especially for those who believe Minaj’s performance would counter the nation’s policies and image. Some citizens of the country even expressed their dissatisfaction on social media.

While a number of fans in the Middle East are elated to see the superstar come to the country, not everyone welcomes the idea of her giving Saudi Arabia the time of day. Now, human rights organizations are asking Minaj to back out of the show.

Rapper Nicki Minaj
Nicki Minaj seen attending an event on Sept. 8, 2017 in New York City. | Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images

Who’s requesting the “Megatron” rapper step back

The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) issued a fiery press release and posted it on their website asking Minaj to cancel her show. Citing that the festival is being funded by the regime under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the group had strong words for Minaj, telling her the regime is “one of the world’s worst human rights violators.”

They view Nicki Minaj as a major influence and possible force for good who could use her celebrity to shine a light on Saudi Arabia’s track record. HRF would like her to focus her efforts on helping to release imprisoned women and human rights activists.

Additionally, HRF’s founder, Thor Halvorssen took things a step further with a harsh moral plea to Minaj:

“What is Nicki Minaj thinking? How does she participate at World Pride one week and then hop on a jet to collect millions from a regime that beheaded five gay men this past April? There is no good reason for Minaj to do business with the Saudi dictatorship. If she proceeds with the show, she will be whitewashing the vast array of human rights crimes committed by MBS including torture, rape, extrajudicial assassination, and the slaughter of innocent civilians.”

You can read the open letter HRF wrote directly to the star here which asks her to reconsider her decision. HRF also directed a request to other performers in the lineup, which includes Liam Payne and Steve Aoki, to back out.

Why the show will probably go on

Minaj has a dedicated fanbase whom she interacts with regularly on social media, but further, she is equally as dedicated to putting on a great show for them. Minaj would probably not wish to disappoint fans who might not otherwise have a chance to see her perform live.

The Jeddah World Music Fest is being billed as the first of its kind for Saudi Arabia. While the HRF and others view Minaj’s decision to do the show as being based solely on money (which may or may not be true), it is highly likely she will consider how backing out will impact her Middle East fans.

Organizers of the event encourage people to support the Jeddah celebrations by attending the musical gathering. But they also want to demonstrate that perceptions of Saudi Arabia can be changed by holding an “inclusive” event like this one. So far, Minaj’s camp has not responded to the human rights group.