DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – Pop star Justin Bieber faces growing calls to cancel his concert in Saudi Arabia next month as the fiancee of murdered Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi joined a chorus of voices urging him on Sunday not to happen in the Formula 1 Racing realm.
In an open letter published by the Washington Post, Hatice Cengiz urged the Canadian megastar to cancel her December 5 performance in the Red Sea town of Jiddah to “send a powerful message to the world that your name and talent will not be used to restore the reputation of a regime that kills its critics.
The Bieber concert is the most memorable performance planned for the Jiddah race, although other F1 concert artists include rapper A $ AP Rocky, DJs David Guetta and Tiesto, and singer Jason Derulo.
This is not the first time that a pop star has been pressured to withdraw from a concert in Saudi Arabia. Mariah Carey was the tallest artist to take the stage in Saudi Arabia following the murder of Khashoggi by Saudi agents in Turkey in October 2018. She rejected calls to boycott the show.
Public pressure, however, prompted Nicki Minaj in 2019 to cancel her performance on stage at a concert in Jiddah, telling The Associated Press at the time that she wanted to show her support for women’s rights, women’s rights. homosexuals and freedom of expression.
The astonishing murder of Khashoggi in 2018 was carried out by members of a team of 15 Saudi government agents who had been sent to Istanbul, where the writer and former government spokesperson met at the Saudi consulate to obtain the documents needed to marry Cengiz. She waited for him outside the consulate, but he never came out. His body has never been found.
The murder by agents who worked for the crown prince sparked international hiccups and cast a shadow over Prince Mohammed, whose reputation never fully recovered. Prince Mohammed claimed he had no prior knowledge of the operation that killed Khashoggi. A U.S. intelligence assessment released under President Joe Biden, however, determined that the crown prince had approved the operation.
“Know that your invitation to participate in a concert in Jiddah comes directly from MBS, as the crown prince is called,” Cengiz wrote in his open letter to Bieber. “Nothing big happens in Saudi Arabia without his consent, and certainly not something as big and flashy as this.”
Bieber’s concert in Saudi Arabia comes shortly before he opens a world tour in February that has been postponed to 2020 due to the pandemic.
Since then, the Saudi state sovereign wealth fund – headed by Prince Mohammed – has taken stock in Live Nation, the company that owns Ticketmaster and promotes concerts for Bieber and other big stars. As Live Nation shares tumbled last year amid COVID-19 lockdowns and thousands of shows canceled, the Public Investment Fund bought $ 500 million in shares of the battered company. .
Public documents show that the Saudi fund is now Live Nation’s second-largest institutional holder, with a stake worth around $ 1.4 billion.
Human Rights Watch also called on Bieber and other performers to withdraw from F1 concerts in Saudi Arabia, saying the events aim to “clean up the sport” by distracting and diverting attention from the human rights record of Saudi Arabia.
The young Saudis are the main participants in these concerts, taking advantage of the new social changes in the country which allow a mixture of music and genre. The Kingdom’s General Sports Authority maintains that sport is a tool for social change within the kingdom.
Next month’s F1 race will be the first time Saudi Arabia has hosted the first sporting event, although the kingdom has hosted the lesser-known Formula-E race in recent years in a bid to raise the country’s profile as as tourist destination.
At the time of Khashoggi’s murder, the crown prince was praised for initiating social reforms that transform the lives of many inside the country. Khashoggi had written articles for the Washington Post criticizing the crown prince’s brash foreign policy moves and the simultaneous crackdown on alleged activists and critics, including women’s rights activists, writers, clerics and economists.
Saudi Arabia has held a trial for some of those implicated in his assassination, sentencing five people to death before sparing them execution.
Khashoggi’s fiancee told The Associated Press she will continue speaking out in hopes of giving a voice to those who remain in jail in Saudi Arabia for expressing their opinion.
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