Nicki Minaj cancels Saudi concert for concerns about women's rights

Nicki Minaj has canceled a performance in Saudi Arabia In a show of support for the rights of women and homosexuals in the ultra-conservative kingdom, the American rapper said on Tuesday.

The scheduled appearance of Minaj in the western city of Jeddah next week as part of a cultural festival triggered a reaction in social networks about human rights in the country.

After reflecting carefully, I decided not to go ahead with my scheduled concert at the Jeddah World Festival, Minaj said in a statement sent by his publicist.

"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, known for her profane lyrics and up-tempo music videos, was due to present herself as the festival's owner, to be televised globally on MTV as the kingdom loosens its decades of restrictions on entertainment. Other scheduled include British musician Liam Payne and American DJ Steve Aoki .

On Friday, the New York-based Human Rights Foundation wrote to Minaj an open letter urging her to withdraw from the festival, asking him to reject the regime's money and use its global influence to demand the release of imprisoned Saudi activists.

Amnesty International have described the Saudi human rights record as abysmal, adding that the nation is in the grip of a sweeping crackdown against critics of the government. The festival in Saudi Arabia , which forbids alcohol and has a strict social code, comes as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman pursues a sweeping liberalization drive that has led to new cinemas, concerts and sporting extravaganzas.

Some believe that the reform is an attempt to mitigate public frustration in the face of an economic crisis and high youth unemployment.

Saudi Arabia is also moving to boost domestic spending on entertainment and tourism, as the kingdom has reeled from low oil prices. While Saudi Arabia is yet to offer tourist visas, the country has fast-tracked electronic permits for international visitors to attend such festivals to further boost revenue.

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