Human rights group urges Nicki Minaj to cancel Saudi Arabia performance

The rapper is set to perform at a festival alongside former One Direction star Liam Payne and US DJ Steve Aoki.

Nicki Minaj has been urged to cancel a planned performance in Saudi Arabia over concerns about the country’s human rights record.

The rapper, known for her raunchy outfits and explicit lyrics, is due to appear at a music festival in the ultra-conservative kingdom later this month.

Former One Direction star Liam Payne and US DJ Steve Aoki are also scheduled to perform at the Jeddah World Fest, which will be alcohol-free and require female attendees to wear full-length robes known as abaya.

Nicki Minaj
Nicki Minaj has been asked by a human rights group to cancel a performance in Saudi Arabia (Jennifer Graylock/PA)

Minaj is facing calls to boycott the event by The Human Rights Foundation (HRF), which wrote a letter calling the Saudi regime “one of the world’s worst human rights violators”.

It asked Minaj to “cancel her performance, refuse the regime’s money and instead use her global influence to issue a statement demanding the release of the Saudi women activists who are currently in prison”.

The five-page letter criticised Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, accusing him of spearheading “a crackdown on human rights, especially those of the women who live in his Kingdom”.

It added: “You (Minaj) recently celebrated Pride Week to stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ community.

“Yet, if you move forward with this performance, you will be condoning, and serving the public relations needs, of a government that executes homosexuals for the ‘crime’ of being who they are.”

Mohammed bin Salman
A human rights group criticised the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman (Yui Mok/PA)

The letter, signed by HRF president and founder Thor Halvorssen, did not mention any of the other artists set to play the festival.

Other musicians to recently perform in Saudi Arabia include Mariah Carey, Enrique Iglesias and the Black Eyed Peas.

Saudi Arabia is a Muslim country in which Islamic law is strictly enforced, with homosexuality and adultery both illegal.

A representative for Minaj has been contacted for comment.

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