The controversy surrounding Nicki Minaj's decision to perform at this month's Jeddah World Fest in Saudi Arabia received a boost Friday with word that the Human Rights Foundation was now publicly calling for the performance to be canceled due to the regime's violation of the rights of "tens of millions of Saudis."
As the Hollywood Reporter noted, the festival is alcohol-free and intended for listeners 16 years of age or older, though the women in attendance will be required to wear a full Abaya while viewing the performance from a separate area.
"Ms. Minaj, as you can see, you are scheduled to perform at a state-sponsored event in one of the most repressive regimes on earth—a country whose leader has also led a relentless campaign to silence women's rights activists," HRF CEO Thor Halvorssen said in the letter. "Many of the women who have advocated to lift the driving ban in Saudi Arabia are currently in jail and being subjected to torture that includes electric shocks, flogging, and rape."
Halvorssen also pointed out the fact that Minaj recently expressed public support for the U.S. LGBTQ community, explaining how following up that move with this festival performance made no sense.
"Just three months ago five gay men were beheaded after they confessed to crimes under torture," the letter states. "If you move forward with this performance for a festival sponsored by the Crown Prince, you will be in league with the people who respond to freedom of expression and thought with murder."
Read the full letter here. As HRF pointed out in an accompanying news release, the July 18 festival performance wouldn't mark the first controversy of its kind for Minaj. Back in 2015, Minaj was criticized by HRF and others for agreeing to a performance for former president José Eduardo dos Santos and family in Angola.