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Nicki Minaj quits Saudi Arabia show in support for women’s rights

Singer Nicki Minaj has pulled out of a music festival in Saudi Arabia to show her support for women’s rights, LGBTQ community and freedom of expression in the conservative kingdom.

A human rights organisation had called on the singer to pull out of Jeddah World Fest and “refuse the regime’s money”.

In a statement, the 36-year-old singer and rapper said: “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.”

Trinidad and Tobago-born Minaj was scheduled to perform at the Jeddah World Fest, billed as “one of the biggest music events ever staged in the Middle East”, on 18 July.

On Tuesday, the star’s name was missing from the line-up on the festival’s official website. Other performers listed included One Direction’s Liam Payne and American musician Steve Aoki.

Following Minaj’s announcement, the festival said the singer had cancelled her performance “due to personal reasons”.

Last week, Human Rights Foundation, a New York-based non-profit organisation, called on Minaj to pull out, “refuse the regime’s money” and use her global influence to speak up about human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia instead. –